Kelp cubes add to ‘sea veggie’ rage
March 25, 2015
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Kelp Cubes add to the sea veggie rage. I’ll tell you more after this –
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Sea farmers can grow lots more than fish and oysters. Growing less labor intensive underwater ocean veggies is an exploding market around the world, especially for products made from kelp. Globally, kelp drives a $5 billion dollar industry. Some examples:
Ocean Approved of Maine, which claims to be America’s first and only commercial kelp farm, launched a line of kelp cubes this month at the Boston Seafood. The cubes are aimed at the popular smoothie market, which has expanded the use of green veggie in its juices. The company also sells kelp “sea slaw,” “sea rounds” and “wraps.” Ocean Approved began in 2009 and has been seeded with a half million dollars in grants from NOAA Fisheries and the Maine Technology Institute.
Kelp also is the latest crop that Canada’s fish farmers are cashing in on. The country’s largest salmon grower – Cooke Aquaculture, recently debuted its brand of certified organically grown seaweeds – winged and sugar kelp. It can be cooked or served up fresh, and is sold under Cooke’s True North brand.
Kelp and other aquatic plants sustain a multi-billion industry throughout Asia, and Chile is getting into the mix. Based on a 2013 economic study, Chile estimates a kelp industry would bring in US$540 million annually.
The growing interest and uses for kelp is not lost on Alaska, where a Mariculture Initiative is building support for expansion, notably in Western Alaska. Julie Decker is director of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation –
“One of the things we are doing is broadening the concept of mariculture. We’re not just talking about shellfish farming or aquatic plants but also enhancement and restoration. So it’s a three legged stool. When you start looking at the industry from that point of view it’s a much broader impact it could have on the state, and you’re also talking about different sets of stakeholders to involve.”
Currently, there are 31 sea farms operating in Alaska and five are growing kelp.
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. (www.oceanbeauty.com) In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.