Wrapping up my fellowship

It’s hard to believe that I have less than two weeks left for my fellowship! I am currently wrapping up all final reports and there’s one in particular I am most excited to see finalized: A Situation Analysis for Oregon’s Emergent Seaweed Aquaculture Industry.

The report explores the restorative benefits seaweed aquaculture can provide, species options, production methods, high potential locations and co-location opportunities, market opportunities, and policy and regulatory considerations. The final stages of edits have involved working with a graphic designer to incorporate some images and a professional layout.

Cover page for the report. Cover photo courtesy of Sara Hamilton.

I have also been working with our graphic designer and OSG’s communications specialists to ensure that the public report meets federal accessibility requirements so that we may post it to the NOAA Central Library. This has largely involved making sure that the final PDF will be machine readable, which includes alt text for images that can be read aloud to users by screen reader software.

Overall I want to give a BIG thanks to all co-authors, reviewers, contributors, and our graphic designer for all the help and amazing work they’ve put towards the situation analysis. The report will be public on Oregon Sea Grant’s website in the coming weeks (I’ll follow up in the comments with a link)!

Washington Seaweed Learning Tour

This past September I had the exciting opportunity to organize and attend a Seaweed Learning Tour in Washington State. Thus far, my fellowship has predominantly been desktop research to develop a situation analysis that explores challenges and opportunities for Oregon’s seaweed aquaculture industry. While the research has been interesting and I’ve learned quite a bit, I was thrilled to get out on the water and see a seaweed and shellfish farm in person.

Our outing began at a dock in Poulsbo, Washington to board a boat and head over to Blue Dot Sea Farm’s site. With rare blue skies and sunshine we were super grateful for the weather.

Photo 1: Clear blue and skies and Blue Dot Sea Farm upon arrival to the site.

Currently in the State of Washington, Blue Dot Sea Farms is the only permitted open-water seaweed aquaculture farm, although there are several other farms that are in varying stages of the permit process. While it wasn’t grow out season for kelp we did still get to see some seaweed that was still in the water for experimental purposes. We also got to learn more about their cultivation process for Pacific oysters, their main crop.

Once back on shore, the team was gifted Blue Dot Kitchen’s Seacharrones – a tasty seaweed chip! I was particularly excited to note yet another seaweed gift for friends and family. Blue Dot Kitchen uses kelp from their own farm for the chips and also purchases seaweed from farms in Alaska and Maine because their farm doesn’t produce enough kelp for the scale of production the Kitchen is aiming for. The Kitchen is very interested in purchasing more locally for their product and we were excited to hear of another potential market for prospective seaweed growers in Oregon.

Photo 3: Seacharrones kelp puff snack. The chips/puffs are made from dried kelp powder.

Oregon Seaweed Learning Tour

It has officially been two months since I started my position as a Restorative Aquaculture Fellow with Oregon Sea Grant and The Nature Conservancy! So far, the fellowship has been a great experience and I’m grateful for this amazing opportunity to network within the restorative aquaculture space and learn more about seaweed farming.

My project involves working with TNC’s Global Aquaculture Strategy Lead, Global Aquaculture Manager, and TNC staff from Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska to explore the potential to invest in and create restorative seaweed aquaculture farms in the Pacific Northwest. A major deliverable of my fellowship will be a situation analysis to better understand challenges and opportunities for Oregon’s seaweed aquaculture industry. Much of my work to date has involved meeting with folks from academia, private industry, NGOs, and state agencies to map out current research, projects, and seaweed farming. I’ve also gotten to do some wild seaweed harvesting in my spare time!

Recently we completed an Oregon learning tour with potential partners to build a shared understanding of farming methods, environmental conditions, and the community context of seaweed aquaculture in the state. We started in Newport, OR with some in-person and virtual presentations focused on a general background for mariculture in Oregon and the restoration of wild kelp. The next day we learned about urchin ranching efforts on the south coast, toured two innovation labs in Newport and headed north to visit Oregon Seaweed’s land-based farm in Garibaldi. We also got lunch at Local Ocean Seafood – my favorite restaurant in Newport.

In the past two months I’ve already gained a deeper understanding of this industry thanks to the help of all the folks I’ve had the opportunity to meet with. I’m very much looking forward to the learning tours we’re planning for Washington and British Columbia in the fall.