NIC has partnered with Kwiakah First Nation to conduct kelp research in KFN’s traditional territory. The goals of the collaboration are two-fold: to create a detailed map and measurements of the wild kelp beds and to research the role of kelp in carbon sequestration from the ocean.
Project Dates: March 2020 – December 2020
Students Hired: 1
Small bull kelp and other seaweeds attach themselves to hard surfaces in the ocean.
Kwiakah First Nation is the second smallest First Nation in BC with 23 registered members. The core of their traditional territory includes the Phillips and Frederick Arm region, about an hour’s boat ride north from downtown Campbell River. Bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) contours much of the steep, rocky shoreline throughout the territory. Frank Voelker, who leads Band Management and Economic Development for the Kwiakah First Nation, approached NIC with concerns about the status of wild kelp beds in the territory and the impact of commercial harvest of wild ocean plants. The Kwiakah also have a strong interest in the ecosystem services that kelp provides.
In August 2020, NIC researchers and SuavAir, a Campbell River-based aerial imaging company, conducted wild kelp bed surveys in KFN traditional territory. NIC researchers used the data to estimate the density and spatial extent of kelp beds. The results from the project help establish a baseline for future (or historic) kelp bed comparisons and will support management decisions related to kelp harvesting and conservation.
Allison Byrne, Lead Researcher
Allison Byrne (Allie) is a researcher in NIC’s Centre for Applied Research, Technology and Innovation where her focus is applied aquaculture research. Most of her work involves field-based seaweed and shellfish research projects that engage local industry partners and NIC students. Allie has an MSc in Geography from the University of Victoria.
Sally Enns, Research Assistant
News Stories and Coverage
NIC aquaculture student takes learning into the field
NIC and Kwiakah First Nation partner on kelp research
Vancouver Sun: Research project aims to assess locations of B.C. bull kelp beds
Times Colonist: Research project aims to assess locations of kelp beds
National Observer: Coastal First Nations ahead of the curve in cultivating seaweed industry