It seems like every week brings a new doomsday study about the death of our oceans. But off the coast of Long Island, an underwater farm is demonstrating how sustainable ocean farming can clean the water, give sea life a safe haven, and turn kelp into the “next kale.” Its creators hope the model will catch on–and a recent $100,000 award will give it more capital to develop the idea.
It’s called the Thimble Island Ocean Farm, and it was created by an organization called GreenWave–the flagship for an idea its creator, Bren Smith, calls a “3D ocean farm.” Smith, who was a career fisherman before huge die-offs and climate change made him reconsider the economic model behind his job, has designed a model for oceanic farms that use seaweed and shellfish to create hanging ecosystems that restore the ocean and its lifeforms while creating farmable “crops” without the threat of overfishing.
GreenWave has been around for more than a decade, but it’s back in the spotlight this week after the Buckminster Fuller Institute named it the winner of its annual award, which comes with a $100,000 check to fund the further development of the winning project.
The increasingly steady demise of biodiversity in the ocean is a huge problem. The most recent study about the issue, published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at more than 600 such studies of the ocean and concluded that, unless something drastic changes, there will be a large-scale “collapse of the marine food chain” by 2050 due to acidification, overfishing, and ocean warming.