One of the most prestigious prizes in sustainability, the Fuller Challenge, has been awarded to a commercial fisherman turned entrepreneur. Following hurricanes Irene and Sandy, Bren Smith, founder of the ocean farming non-profit GreenWave, said he had a change of heart and began to search for a more sustainable form of fishing seafood.
“I had to adapt and reimagine how I was going to grow for this new era of climate change … what species do I pick, what technologies do I use,” he said. So Smith invented the world’s first 3D ocean farm. Not only does his model aim to reduce overfishing, but it also attempts to mitigate the effects of climate change. Seaweed and oysters — two of the species Smith grows — soak up carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gases emitted through human activities.
“GreenWave’s integrated model shifts the practice of aquaculture from growing vulnerable monocultures to creating vibrant ecosystems, which produce higher yields,” said Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI). “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. The farms filter harmful pollutants out of water, sequester CO2, support biodiversity, and are thus designed to restore rather than deplete our ecosystems.”
With scalability in mind, Smith wanted his model to be simple and replicable. To that end, GreenWave supports other fish farmers to create their own 3D ocean gardens. “If you were to take a network of our farms totaling the size of Washington State, technically you could feed the world,” Smith said.