Quantcast
Business

Underwater Vertical Seaweed Farm Restores Our Oceans While Providing Food and Fuel Source

Bren Smith has set up what he calls "3D ocean farms," which "utilize the entire ocean column" to grow "restorative species," including scallops, clams, oysters and kelp. Smith says this makes the oceans cleaner, healthier and more habitable, while providing jobs and food.


He hasn't always been fishing that way. His story is one of "ecological redemption," Smith said in a TEDx Talk (see below) in 2013. He dropped out of high school when he was 14 to work on fishing boats, working "at the height of the industrialization of the oceans. We were ripping up entire ecosystems with our trawls. We were using evermore efficient technology to chase fewer and fewer fish deeper and deeper into the ocean. And I've personally thrown tens of thousands of pounds of dead bycatch back into the sea," he said.

Bren Smith calls his type of fishing "3D ocean farming," and it recently won him the $100,000 2015 Fuller Challenge Prize from the Buckminster Fuller Institute. Photo credit: GreenWave

But that all changed about 15 years ago when he started growing seaweed in the Long Island Sound, where he now grows 30 to 60 tons of it per year. Seaweed has been described as a superfood, but it's also really beneficial to the ecosystem.

"Seaweed farms also help clean the water from pollution like carbon dioxide and nitrogen," explains FastCoExist. "They help with storm protection. And they provide a way for fishermen to do something other than fishing at sea: creating new forms of manmade coastal ecosystem—farms centered around seaweed."

"Globally, the potential scale of seaweed farming is 600 times greater than any other method of cultivating algae," says Quartz. "Seaweed is finding many uses beyond food, from medicine to fuels, and it may be that seaweed farms will offer refuges for marine species under threat from increasing acidification." And scientists recently worked out how to cultivate green algae for biofuel in huge quantities at $50 a barrel, which is about the cost of crude oil.

It's hard to understate the value kelp has as a food source and a fuel source, as well as the role it can play in restoring ecosystems. Smith's kelp is even being used by Yale University's farm as a fertilizer, serving as a "bridge," as Smith puts it, between "land-based farming" and "sea-based farming."

Smith's Thimble Island Ocean Farm was created out of his project GreenWave, which just received a huge endorsement because it won the prestigious $100,000 2015 Fuller Challenge Prize from the Buckminster Fuller Institute.

Buckminster Fuller Insitute explains why Smith's project is so groundbreaking:

GreenWave's integrated model shifts the practice of aquaculture from growing vulnerable monocultures to creating vibrant ecosystems, which produce higher yields. The infrastructure is simple: seaweed, scallops and mussels grow on floating ropes, stacked above oyster and clam cages below. From these crops ocean farmers can produce food, fertilizers, animal feeds, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, biofuels and much more.

This video courtesy of Patrick Mustain at Scientific American provides an excellent explanation of Smith's work:

Watch Smith's TEDx Talk here:

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Animals
White-tailed deer flee in a nighttime photograph. George Shiras

People Are So Annoying That Animals Are Becoming More Nocturnal

By Jason Bittel

It's official: Animals around the world are sick of our sh . . . enanigans.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Emilie Chen / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise

By Jason Bittel

The news coming out of East Africa's Virunga Mountains these days would have made the late (and legendary) conservationist Dian Fossey very happy. According to the most recent census, the mountain gorillas introduced to the world in Gorillas in the Mist, Fossey's book and the film about her work, have grown their ranks from 480 animals in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016. Add another couple hundred apes living in scattered habitats to the south, and their population as a whole totals more than 1,000. Believe it or not, this makes the mountain gorilla subspecies the only great apes known to be increasing in number.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Garlic mustard flower. Gary J. Wood / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

10 Edible Weeds Likely Growing in Your Yard

By Brian Barth

You work so hard on your vegetable garden, primping and pruning to the point of exhaustion each spring. One of the biggest chores, of course, is weeding. But in doing so, you might be throwing away valuable produce.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Pixabay

If Meditation Is Not Your Thing, Try a Walk in the Woods

By Karin Klein

There are times when I don't know what to do with myself. I feel at odds with the world, irritated by the people in it, in a funk about myself and what I'm achieving or, rather, not achieving, overwhelmed by the obstacles and complications of life. Happiness seems like an entirely elusive state of being.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights
Bill Hinton / Getty Images

Fake Grassroots Campaigns Deserve Uprooting

AstroTurf looks and feels like grass—in an all-too-perfect way. But it's not grass.

Now the well-known artificial turf's brand name has taken on a new meaning, referring to purported "grassroots" efforts that are actually funded and supported by industry and political entities.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A photo posted by Hard to Port shows an Icelandic company having killed what some say is an endangered blue whale. Hard to Port / Facebook

Some Experts Say Icelandic Whaling Company Killed an Endangered Blue Whale

Anti-whaling group Hard to Port posted photos on their Facebook page Tuesday that activist group Sea Shepherd claims show an endangered blue whale recently killed by an Icelandic whaling company, the Australian ABC News reported Thursday.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health

Kentucky Law Could Restrict Health Care for Miners Suffering From Black Lung Disease

A Kentucky law that goes into effect Saturday could make it more difficult for miners suffering from black lung to claim federal benefits, Vice News reports.

The law mandates that only five of Kentucky's 11 pulmonologists, or lung experts, may examine miners' X-rays in benefit claims.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Yannick Croissant / CC BY 2.0

Sorry AC/DC, Rock and Roll Is Noise Pollution

By John R. Platt

It's a rare scientific paper that cites both biologist E.O. Wilson and AC/DC guitarist Angus Young.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!