Seaweed king: harvesting a gift from the ocean

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The old people are a lot smarter than we give them credit for,” says Joe Dorgan of Seacow Pond, who plans to create a thriving business from storm-tossed seaweed. Photo by Steve Sharratt

The Seaweed King is half way through the “paperwork” to sell all four kinds of Island seaweed as fertilizer, pellets, milled products and even as natural supplements to animal feed. His market seems endless.

“Island beaches are covered in rotting seaweed going to waste because for the last 40 years it was easier to just buy fertilizer,” he told an agricultural workshop. “We are walking all over what we already have.”

Dorgan says the revival of a seaweed business will expand tourism as well since “there is no place in the world where you can see people using horses to collect seaweed.”

During the 1970s, the Irish Moss industry was worth more than lobster, codfish and tuna combined. Now, those in the industry are lucky to ship a few containers a year as opposed to when they once shipped a few every day.

Added as a food supplement, seaweed makes major health and reproductive improvements to livestock and one study indicates 10 per cent less methane.

With the pendulum swinging back to environmentally friendly and green products, Dorgan says the time has come for seaweed to regain its crown and change his beloved West Prince from ghost town status. When the warmer weather arrives Dorgan plans to hold an open house of his operation.

Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea welcomes any new developments and growth for P.E.I., especially in her stomping grounds.

“Joe is a guy who tells it like it is and I respect him for that,” she said. “He thinks outside the box and is not afraid to try new ideas and that’s what every successful business begins with.”

 

 

 

Organizations: Nova Scotia Agriculture College, ADAPT council, Canadian Food and Inspection Agency

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Alberta, Europe Ireland Texas United States Pennsylvania North Caper

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