Environmentalists have long struggled to save the world’s oceans from the perils of overfishing, climate change, and pollution. What if we have it backward? What if the question is not how we can preserve the wildness of our oceans, but how the oceans can be developed to protect them and the planet?
Ocean farming is not a modern innovation. Once a sustainable practice, aquaculture has devolved into monolithic factory farms known for their low-quality fish treated with antibiotics and fungicides that pollute local waterways.
A small group of ocean farmers and scientists are charting a different course—developing small-scale farms where complementary species are cultivated to provide food and biofuel, clean up the environment, and reverse climate change. Instead of finfish, the anchor crops of green ocean farms are seaweed and shellfish, two organisms that may well be Mother Nature’s Rx for global warming.
How so? Among other benefits, oysters filter nitrogen out of the water column. Seaweed pulls carbon from the atmosphere and the water, with some varieties capable of absorbing five times more carbon dioxide than land-based plants. Seaweed farms also have the capacity to grow massive amounts of nutrient-rich food and provide a clean replacement for biofuels.
Technical summaries for each solution will be available May 1, 2017.