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NIC and Kwiakah First Nation partner for kelp research

Research to be conducted over the summer and will be completed by December 2020
Wild bull kelp will be surveyed and measured through a research partnership between North Island College’s Centre for Applied Research, Technology and Innovation, and the Kwiakah First Nation. Image supplied

North Island College’s Centre for Applied Research, Technology and Innovation (CARTI) is collaborating with the Kwiakah First Nation to conduct wild kelp bed research.

Kwiakah First Nation is the second smallest First Nation in B.C. 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.

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.

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“We’re very excited to work with Frank and Kwiakah on this project,” said Allison Byrne, lead researcher, CARTI. “We’re constantly learning more about the benefits and complexities of ecosystems supported by wild kelp. Taking inventories like this one help us monitor how those wild beds change over time.”

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.

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“Kelp and other ocean plants are crucial for a functioning marine ecosystem in Kwiakah’s territory,” said Voelker.

Kwiakah Chief Steven Dick is a strong supporter of a healthy marine environment and authorized Voelker to reach out to NIC and CARTI.

“They are leaders in marine research in our region and are the right partner for Kwiakah to explore measures that will help in our efforts to protect the marine environment,” he said. “Equipped with the research results developed by CARTI, Kwiakah will be in a position to work with the BC government to implement the most effective management style for the territory.”

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The project is funded by Tides Canada and Coast Funds. Surveys will begin this summer and will be completed by December 2020.

For more information on CARTI projects, or to learn about working with CARTI on applied research projects, visit