3D Ocean Farming

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 5:43 AM

Bren Smith

Bren Smith gives everyone the precious gift of possibility and hope, he is the co-founder and executive producer of Green Wave.  Green wave pioneers the development of a regenerative ocean farming that not only restores food, but ocean biodiversity and ecosystems, mitigates climate change, and creates green jobs.

Bren Smith was a fisherman who dropped out of high school and spent many nights in jail.  He says that he is humbled to be here today and does not deserve to be here yet.  Born and raised in Newfoundland, Canada in a little fishing village he left at the age of 14 to fish.  He headed to the Bering Sea where he fished cod and crab.  They were tearing up entire ecosystems with trawls, chasing fish further and further out to sea to illegal waters.  He personally has thrown tens of thousands of by-catch back into the sea.  He says, "It wasn't just there that we were pillaging, most of my fish was going to McDonald's for their fish sandwiches."  "There I was, still, a kid working one of the most unsustainable food production on the planet, producing some of the most unhealthy food on the planet." In the early 1990s the cod stocks crashed and thousands of fisherman were thrown out of work.  This created a split in the industry, the captains of industry, who wanted to fish the last fish, were only thinking 10 years down the road, but there was a younger generation of us thinking 50 years out.  We wanted to make out living on the ocean.  Bren Smith states, "I want to die on my boat one day-that's how I measure my success. So we all went on a search for sustainability.  Where he ended up on an aquaculture farm in Northern Canada.  Bren struck out two more times working for the equivalent of an Iowa pig farm at sea pumping the water with pesticides and pumping fish full of antibiotics.  The second was a shell-fishing ground that was eventually destroyed by a hurricane. 

The loss of his job made him reevaluate his occupation.  He began to remake himself as a 3D farmer, growing a mix of seaweeds, shellfish for food, fuel, fertilizer, and feed.   He designed a far, that is vertical with hurricane proof anchors on the edges connected by floating horizontal ropes accross the surface.  From these lines kelp and Gracilaria and other kinds of seaweeds grow vertically downward, next to scallops in hanging nets and mussels held in suspension in mesh socks.  Staked below the vertical garden are oysters in cages and then clams buried in the sea floor.  Although there is not much to see from the oceans surface that's, "good," says Bren "we want ocean agriculture to tread lightly." 

The 3D farms are designed to address three major challenges.  The first to bring the the table a delicious new seafood plate, to transform fishermen into restorative ocean farmers, and third to build the foundation for new blue green economy that does not recreate the injustices of the old industrial economy.

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