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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The potential and a strategy for managing and developing marine plant resources in British Columbia Lewis, Kevin M.


This thesis assesses the potential and suggests strategies for the development of marine plant resources on the Canadian west coast. Three sub-objectives have been considered to determine the kind of marine plant management strategies that are necessary to assess and develop the industry in British Columbia. The analytical framework of the thesis hinges on these questions. 1. What is the physical potential for growing and harvesting these marine plants on the Canadian west coast and what products might be produced? 2. What is the potential market for marine plant products and what are the economics of production in British Columbia? 3. What should be the components of a strategy for developing an industry in British Columbia? These objectives have been met through literature reviews and a series of personal interviews. In 1976, the cumulative commercial value of the world's marine plant industries was approaching U.S. $1 Billion. The Japanese domestic industry alone generated an annual value of approximately U.S. $700 Million. World trade in edible marine plants and all marine plant products was estimated at U.S. $140 Million. Of this international trade, phycocolloids (marine plant colloids) and their raw materials constituted the dominant economic share. Since preliminary attempts, in 1946, to develop a marine plant operation in British Columbia the history of the marine plant industry has been one of disappointment. A series of failed development attempts has plagued the industry since its conception. At this time a limited marine plant industry has established on the west coast. These operations are small in scale and rely on the harvest of localized wild and cultured stocks. This study focuses on six marine plant species and identifies kelp meal and roe-on-kelp as economically viable products at this time. A number of small-scale operations have developed around the roe-on-kelp sector but administrative/jurisdictional constraints have prevented the establishment of a commercial scale kelp meal operation. Three priorities for the development of marine plant resources emerge from this study: 1. to provide a process which permits the expression and incorporation of the interests of affected resource users; 2. a need for an implementation process; and 3. a need to reserve critical resource beds to prevent encroachment of unsympathetic activities. The thesis concludes by illustrating that a strategic planning process provides an appropriate procedure to implement these priorities. Recommendations for industrial development and management are discussed under four categories: 1. Who should do the planning and management? 2. What should the co-ordinating body be doing? 3. How to implement the strategic plan? 4. When should these efforts begin?

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