Finalist, Seafood Champion Award Vision Category
Over the past 15 years, commercial fisherman Bren Smith has created one of the world’s first multispecies 3D ocean farms. Three years ago, Bren launched the nonprofit GreenWave, a program within Real Good Fish that helps underemployed fishers become ocean farmers by adopting his open-source, easily replicable model.
GreenWave’s model of ocean farming restores, rather than depletes, our ocean ecosystems. A single acre of 3D ocean farm filters millions of gallons of seawater every day, creates habitats for hundreds of wild species, and absorbs the excess carbon and nitrogen that are threatening our seas with acidification and oxygen-depleted dead zones.
The infrastructure is simple: seaweed, scallops and mussels grow on floating ropes, stacked above oyster and clam cages below. Each acre has the capacity to grow 20 tons of sea vegetables and 250,000 shellfish producing food, fertilizers, animal feeds, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, biofuels and much more.
Meanwhile, this farming model is designed to require zero inputs, meaning it does not require any fresh water, fertilizer or pesticides, making it the most sustainable form of food production on the planet.
The model is now an open source blueprint for what the future of our oceans and coastal economies can look like through the creation of a blue-green economy. Each “reef” has 25 small-scale ocean farms, a land-based hatchery and processing hub, and a network of large-scale institutional buyers and entrepreneurs developing value-added products.
These reefs can be replicated every 200 miles up and down coastlines. Bren and GreenWave have built a near-complete reef in Southern New England and have plans to expand to the West Coast and globally in the near future. “We envision a day when there are thousands of restorative ocean farms on coasts around the world contributing food, fertilizers, energy and jobs to local economies, while saving our oceans—and ourselves,” says Bren.
The farm startup program is currently supporting 11 farms growing seaweed, with an expected 10 new farms coming online next year. “Momentum is building,” says Bren. “GreenWave now has a waitlist to start farms in every coastal state in the U.S. and in over 20 countries.”