Conversion of Marine Macroalgae
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Conversion of Marine Macroalgae

Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles, Québec

The industrial use of marine algae is a huge and growing market feeding large industries, mainly in Asia and Europe.

Canada has all the elements required to develop an industrial centre in this field, namely, relatively unpolluted coastal waters and large reserves of this natural resource. Québec’s coastal areas are no exception. Québec’s macroalgae has a high commercial potential, since this natural resource is used in a wide range of products, including fertilizers, foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. Fast-growing cold-water algae are easily cultivated in marine farms, and could bring needed diversification to shellfish farmers. Despite the emergence of an algae cultivation, harvesting and processing industry made up of primarily small and medium-sized businesses, applied research in the field is unstructured and entrepreneurs have little documentation or technical support at their disposal.

The creation of an Industrial Research Chair in the Conversion of Marine Macroalgae at the École des pêches et de l’aquaculture du Québec (ÉPAQ), part of the Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles, will bring together available knowledge, resources and expertise to address current needs. The funding obtained or the industrial chair program has allowed research professor and Chairholder Éric Tamigneaux to set up a small work team, in partnership with the Centre d’innovation de l’aquaculture et des pêches du Québec (Merinov), which manages the Centre collégial de transfert de technologie en pêches (CCTT) at the Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles. Funds are being used to organize workshops and symposia, supplement student grants, operate the hatchery and the algoculture demonstration farm at the ÉPAQ, supplement project budgets and leverage further project funding.

The main objectives of Dr. Tamigneaux’s research are to encourage and coordinate applied research projects on macroalgae, provide industrial players with scientific and technical support, and offer training to companies and students. The applied research has three components: fisheries and natural resources, mariculture, and algal biomass conversion.

Research projects will be adapted to the needs of industry to enable entrepreneurs and users of the results to address the challenge of utilizing the resource sustainably and stimulating the local and regional economy.

One current project involves Algoa, a small firm in Forestville on Québec’s North Shore, which employs nine people who harvest and process 20 tons of algae every year. These large volumes are used in a fertilizer, but “that’s not the greatest gain,” says president Dany Sénéchal. Small quantities are also being sold to the cosmetics industry and Algoa is developing a food subsidiary in teas. Mr. Sénéchal is counting on Dr. Tamigneaux’s research team to identify the algae’s properties: “French research results don’t apply in Québec,” he says. “The Chair’s research will give me checked and checkable information that my algae is unique.”

Éric Tamigneaux is a research professor at ÉPAQ, one of the college’s campuses. An oceanographer by training, Mr. Tamigneaux has worked at the college for 12 years, both as a professor in the aquaculture technical diploma program and as senior project manager at the CCTT.

Over the past six years, Mr. Tamigneaux has developed unique expertise in Québec on growing macroalgae and has successfully stimulated companies’ and institutions’ interest in algae. Founder of the Centre d’étude et de valorisation des algues marines (CÉVAM), he has created a network of partners from universities and the CCTT network.

About Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles
Le Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles est situé dans un environnement grandeur nature, entouré de plages, du Parc national Forillon et du Parc national de la Gaspésie. Il est composé de trois campus et d’une école nationale : le Campus de Gaspé, le Campus des Îles-de-la-Madeleine, le Campus … Learn More