Lloyd man could be left high and dry

By Geoff Lee

October 20, 2016 12:00 AM

THAR'S MONEY IN THEM THAR WEEDS Matt Dugas, who is diversifying his Lloydminster fluid hauling and oil related rental properties by harvesting Rockweed in his home province of Nova Scotia, may have to return to Lloydminster if he and his main partner, Jeremy Boudreau, left, don't get a provincial lease to harvest shoreline weeds. For now they can harvest weeds in open water from a skiff under federal regulations with business partner Jeremy Boundreau, shown on the left. He will be back in October and is looking for investors.

Lloydminster entrepreneur, Matt Dugas, who left his local business and associates behind him to harvest rockweed in Nova Scotia, could find himself beached.
That province has yet to grant a shoreline harvesting lease to his Maritime Rockweed Ltd. startup company and if he doesn’t get it, he may have to resume his crude hauler and property rental businesses in Lloydminster.
As we first reported in our July 28 edition, Dugas left Lloyd nearly a year ago to diversify and seek his fortune in seaweed harvesting when the oil and gas economy nose dived.
“We were told we were going to get word within a month from me leaving Lloyd,” said Dugas last week from his base near Sheet Harbour.
It was the same story in May when the Source spoke with Dugas about his Nova Scotia venture with a group of partners.
“It’s been nearly a year and we are still awaiting a response from the minister’s office,” he said at that time and now he’s hearing it could be put back to the next 2017/18 provincial election.
The decision lies in the hands of Keith Colwell, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture who continues to put off a decision promised in January to who knows when.
Dugas said the department’s deputy minister, Kim MacNeil, has visited Rockweed’s operation and gave it the thumbs up.
“We’ve got the full support of Keith Colwells’ department, but we don’t have his support because of different interests,” said Dugas.
A lease will allow Dugas’s company access to harvest seaweed along more than 50 kilometres of shoreline and process it into value added products like fertilizer.
Without a lease, they can’t calculate their annual yield that is key to their business plan and financing.
“Right now, we are operating under federal jurisdiction in the open water aspect of it,” he said, using manual harvesting methods with a rake at the lowest level of production.
“Until we get the leases we’re just running on open water and just trying to harvest and process on a shoestring budget,” he said.
Maritime Rockweed is shipping the weed known as Ascophyllum nodosum by the wet ton to their buyer, American Kelp in Maine, with plans for sustainable growth.
Rockweed clings tightly to rocks by sucker-like anchors, grows up to eight feet in length and lives for 12-15 years.
Harvesting regulations require the weed to be cut to a minimum of five inches of the plant’s hold fast anchors.
So far Martime Rockweed have harvested about 250 tons of the weed.
“We’re bringing a whole new innovative way of processing, loading, handling even surveying,” said Dugas about his company plans.
The venture could all be for naught if he doesn’t get the lease within the coming months and that’s keeping him from a planned visit to Lloyd this month.
“Right now, I’m just here trying to get this off the ground,” he said from Nova Scotia, where he was raised.
“If the minister gives us the leases, then I’m probably going to move back here with the family because our families are all from here.
“If they don’t give us the leases then I’m back in Lloyd. I’ve got most of my interests there.”

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