Where can we grow kelp? Evaluating data for the selection of N. luetkeana seaforestation and aquaculture sites in British Columbia nearshore waters
Increasing the biomass of macroalgae on the British Columbian coast can have positive impacts on habitat, biodiversity, climate change mitigation and food security. Identifying areas that could support high kelp productivity is a valuable, yet often underemphasized, step prior to establishing locations suitable for seaforestation — a regenerative practice that aims to grow resilient marine ecosystems. Sections of the British Columbian (BC) coastline were examined to identify favourable conditions for Nereocystis luetkeana forest development based on available oceanographic information and direct measurements of existing distributions of N. luetkeana. Potential opportunities for seaforestation or macroalgae aquaculture in British Columbia are then identified. Study sites were analyzed to test whether the free and accessible data examined herein are useful for the placement of N. luetkeana seaforestation efforts. The product of this study is steps to help guide bull kelp seaforestation site selection along with recommendations to improve the methodology around site selection.