Scientists project a total collapse of wild sea fishery by the year 2050. As a lifelong fisherman, Bren Smith understood that something had to be done differently. After 15 years of attempts, he developed 3D ocean farming, which seems to be on the right track and has immense potential.
Simple idea, maximum output
Simply put, it is a vertical underwater garden of different species. Kelps grow vertically down on the lines, next to scallops and lantern nets next to mussel and mussel socks. Below them are oysters in cages and clams down in the mud, yet everything is hurricane-proof. Quite simply. This way of diversifying species reduces risk and creates a year-round harvest from the ocean. Kelp is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth, a winter crop harvested in spring, right after scallops. Oysters are year-round harvested while clams in spring and summer. On a 20 acre of a near-shore seafloor 10 to 20 tons of kelp and 250,000 of shellfish per acre could be produced in 5 months. Not only do these ocean farms produce large amounts of food, they also mimic coral reefs and help in the process of regeneration and restoration of sea life.
Zero-impact-food production process
It is a zero-impact-food production process as it doesn’t require fresh water, has no need for fertilizers and pesticides and uses up no land. It has no need for chemicals and it cleans the oceans mitigating the effect of climate change. There are twice as less fish than there were 50 years ago, dead zones in the ocean, high acidity and low oxygen levels. Oysters filter out 50 gallons of water per day, soaking up nitrogen as they need it to grow, and on the other hand, kelp sequesters 5 times more carbon dioxide than land-based plants reducing the acidification of the ocean. Kelp might be considered a super plant because it can be used in many different ways. Kelp noodles is just one way we could eat them. Kelp is also a good animal feed, it can be used for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, bio fueling, fertilizer and so on. And keep in mind that there are over 10,000 different edible plants in the ocean alongside other sea species, which are rich in iron, calcium, omega 3 and many more nutrients. We might switch from tomatoes and potatoes to sea wide and other sea vegetables. Ocean cuisine, yummy!
It is an opportunity for fishermen, scientists, farmers, economists and chefs to work side-by-side in creating conditions and taking advantage of this great opportunity for innovations. This also means more jobs for fishermen because this model requires minimal capital and minimal skills, and as we’ve seen, the future of fishery isn’t an optimistic one unless we change something. This innovative approach is an open-source concept, rather than a franchise, making it even more accessible. It is a new green industry being built with the right infrastructure to support it in the long-term. The economic potential is huge with great opportunities for innovations and will result in an overall positive global impact.
What awaits on the horizon?
The whole concept is in its early stages, but this resilient and more affordable way of farming with restorative species that also helps make a habitable sea life is certainly an innovative approach not only to fishing but agriculture, industry and our has an impact on the environment as well. New opportunities will arise along the way making way for more innovations and inspire others to be proactive. From this point of view, not only could the sea life be fully restored by the year 2050. but it could also be thriving in a way we could only imagine now. Let’s make that projection and see how this simple innovative idea further evolves.