Ocean Farming: Eco-Friendly Solution To World Hunger
Ocean farming is one of the proposed solutions to produce food that is least harmful to the environment effectively.
By 2050, there is a need to increase food production by 60% to feed the 9.3 billion people in the world, United Nations reports. Experts view ocean farming as a possible and sustainable solution to future world hunger and more.
Traditional agriculture methods are the primary cause of soil erosion worldwide. It takes away the bacterias, life, and other nourishments needed for healthy soil, decreasing its fertility and often leaving it unusable for future cultivation. Besides that, Netflix Kiss The Ground shows the effect of tilling and the use of pesticides in soil erosion, climate change, our health, and ecology.
According to the 2015 report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “33% of the Earth's soils are already degraded, and over 90% could become degraded by 2050.” And while industrial farmers are still yet to give Mother Nature’s land a break, it would be better to move the crops to the sea.
Ocean farming is just that—taking terrestrial crops like fruits and vegetables into the sea—and more, like growing seaweed and shellfish.
Here’s what you can find in this article:
Experts Take On The Benefits Of Ocean Farming
New frontiers in agriculture are opening up more of the world’s surface for cultivation. Not to mention, one of the fastest-growing aquaculture sectors is seaweed farming. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that Alaska alone is harvesting hundreds of thousands of seaweed.
As shown in the research of Wouter Visch of The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), University of Tasmania, and other researchers, farming seaweed can have a positive impact on the coastal environment.
Bren Smith, aquaculture professional and co-founder of GreenWave, supported such claims. In an interview with GreenBiz, Smith says that “regenerative ocean farming is a triple threat when it comes to providing climate and social benefits.” Like kelp and seaweeds, sea veggies are easier to grow and can filter carbon dioxide more effectively than the plants on land. Plus, it creates more jobs.
Ocean farming, like seaweed farming, is an innovative way that utilizes our waters so that our farmed lands can take a break and have a chance to regenerate.
As quoted from the modern farmer, Smith adds that “the ocean’s like why don’t you grow things that don’t swim away and don’t have to feed? When you look at the ocean that way, there are hundreds of kinds of shellfish and thousands of plants we can grow. That opens up a whole frontier of agriculture.”
Meanwhile, researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) Harbor Branch have already started growing what we may call sea vegetables. After a successful 10-week study of growing sea asparagus, a new salad staple and vegan favorite may be about to take off.
For Paul Wills, Ph.D., one of Harbor Branch’s principal investigators, “Sea vegetables are a great source of minerals and would be a healthy addition to any meal.” A single serving of sea vegetables can offer 1g of plant protein—without fat and cholesterol. “Some varieties of halophyte plants contain iodine, which is an important element for health, and the salt that they contain is similar to sea salt,” he added.
But seaweeds and seashells are not the only things you can grow under the sea. It can also be a place for producing fruits and veggies. After all, stable temperature, water, sunlight, and protection are the four factors plants need to grow.
In his TedEd talk, Luca Gamberini, Marketing Manager of the Ocean Reef Group and among the pioneers of Nemo’s Garden, explains how they utilized these factors alongside hydroponics—planting on nutrient-rich waters, eliminating the use of soil—to create mini biospheres under the ocean.
“We do not need soil because we are hydroponic. Temperature is given by the surrounding body of water. Protection is given by the fact that we are underwater. And we have natural evaporation which provides us with fresh water that we need to make its circle into the hydroponic system,” Luca says. Plants grow and thrive faster underwater. Hence Nemo’s Garden successfully grew thyme, marjoram, basil, tomatoes, strawberries, and lettuce.
Ocean farming is an overall regenerative effort to restore not only our oceans but also a balanced ecology. Lands will have time to heal, wastes from fish farms become nutrients to the plants, which become nutrients for the fish. It does not need many resources to maintain, hence leaving fewer footprints above and under the oceans.
Ocean farming is a novel initiative. Hence it is not being talked about much. If you genuinely want to get involved and learn more about growing plants under the sea, go ahead and get to know the leading people behind it.
You cannot talk about ocean farming without mentioning GreenWave. This non-governmental organization promotes zero-input regenerative farming by growing seaweed and shellfish on vertical gardens while filtering carbon and rebuilding reef ecosystems.
To put it simply, they use a 3D vertical garden with lines of seaweed, mussels, scallops, oysters, and clams—no fertilizer and feed needed. With the vertical setup, they can cover more area, resulting in more food production without hurting the ocean.
Disclaimer: This logo is from GreenWave's website. All credits to this photo belong
The masterminds behind the farming of sea veggies, like sea asparagus, were honed in FAU Harbor Branch. They specialize in “ocean science for a better world,” providing studies addressing critical issues in coastal zones, ocean, and human well-being. Under the Aquaculture Innovation and Food Security, researchers take a deep dive into responsible seafood farming by collaborating and finding solutions with NGOs, academia, government, and private sectors.
Disclaimer: This logo is from Florida Atlantic University's website. All credits to this photo belong to them.
Underwater biospheres came about after Sergio Gamberini, founder of diving equipment firm Ocean Reef, wondered if it could create an environment under the sea to grow plants like basil—a staple in Italian cuisine. It turns out it is possible. Now, the Nemo’s Garden has grown other terrestrial plants aside from basil, creating a sustainable alternative agriculture system.
As you can see, ocean farming is not a crazy idea that you can only read about in a Sci-Fi novel. Ocean lovers and researchers have joined hands in providing better solutions to future world hunger as our soils are slowly losing fertility. Our world is 70% water. Why not make the most out of it?
Disclaimer: This logo is from Nemo's Garden's website. All credits to this photo belong to them.
Ocean farming is an overall regenerative effort to restore not only our oceans but also a balanced ecology. Lands will have time to heal, wastes from fish farms become nutrients to the plants, which become nutrients for the fish.
— Derek Dodds, Wave Tribe Founder
What You Can Do
You can head over to their websites and join their efforts by purchasing prototypes or donating to the studies. However, you can also contribute in a small yet big way by keeping our oceans clean. After all, ocean farming cannot thrive on dead polluted seas.
At Wave Tribe, we help keep our oceans alive and thriving by keeping them safe from toxic surfing. We offer stylish and eco-friendly surfing gear that you can use while enjoying the waves without compromising the ocean’s health.
Surf safe and surf responsibly by checking us out—we have organic surfboard wax, recycled plastic eco leash, and a sustainable hemp-based surfboard travel bag. Battle off climate change and help create better oceans to aid a more sustainable future that can even end world hunger.
Learn more about our Heal The Oceans campaign.
At Wave Tribe, we manufacture our surfing gears—bags, leash, etc.—using eco-friendly materials as our way of making sure that in every surf ride, we keep nature healthy and preserved.