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Project Details

Project dates
15/08/2023  – 15/05/2024
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Ranah Chavoshi

Project Lead

Bennett B


Two waves, one shore: A story about ecological restoration and a plastic pollution solution. Invasive seaweed removal from Burrard inlet and bioplastic manufacturing

Project Description

The invasive Japanese seaweed, Sargassum muticum, has caused large-scale destruction in different parts of the world. Sargassum appears in gigantic mats of free-floating seaweed; it doesn’t attach to the bottom of the sea but grows atop the water. Historically, Sargassum has encroached on beaches in small quantities. However, the BP oil spill, pollution from agricultural and industrial runoff, and climate change have resulted in the mass accumulation of Sargassum on beaches in North America and the Caribbean. When Sargassum enters an environment, it tends to block sunlight from the surface water and slowly outcompete the seaweeds and other organisms at deeper depths. In Canada, we are beginning to see a similar pattern in Sargassum establishing itself locally.

I would like to develop a project to determine if Sargassum can be utilized to develop a bio-based plastic material. Sargassum is problematic because it takes over an entire ecosystem and reduces biodiversity. Specifically, we hope to partner with an Indigenous Nation to work with their youth to remove Sargassum, process it, and manufacture it into plastic. If we can demonstrate our process, we can utilize a unique source material, restore ecosystems, and create a beneficial product for the environment and local communities. Furthermore, this solution could be replicated in other areas, such as the Caribbean, where Sargassum has become a major economic issue impacting tourism, fisheries, and shipping. In addition, Sargassum causes environmental damage by impacting water quality negatively and competing with other native types of seaweed and eelgrass.

This project has been created in commemoration of the lives of all the victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, including two Ocean Bridge ambassadors, Danielle Moore and Micah Messent. We aspire to carry on their legacy and commitment to making the world a better place by creating long-lasting impacts with a firm commitment to driving positive change for the environment and our ocean. We will never forget the light that Danielle and Micah brought to the world and will continue to keep them in our hearts. To learn more about these two amazing people, please visit: Honouring Danielle and Micah  – Ocean Wise. This work is partially funded by the Commemoration Fund for Victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Tragedy.

What was your biggest challenge?

I think the biggest challenge was “ground-truthing” where sargassum was located as when we started it was no longer growing. This threw a wrench in our plans to run an event during the fall, so we had to pivot and reschedule for Ocean Week. In the end, it worked out better!

What was your most valuable takeaway?

I think building partnerships with Coastal Carbon AI and the Tsleil Waututh Nations. Both these organizations share values in what we do and we have found allies in the work we are trying to accomplish. I am so grateful for their support.

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