GreenWave: The Secret Underwater Gardens Saving Our Seas

Seaweed grown in vertical sea farms can capture carbon, improve the sea's oxgen levels and provide nutritious food

A new model of vertical ocean farming is making waves, and it promises not just to help reduce the effects of overfishing and ocean acidification - it has also the potential to mitigate climate change and turn an ailing small fishing industry into a thriving restorative ocean farming one.

Author Annalisa Dorigo, 05.24.17

Translation Annalisa Dorigo:

A new model of vertical ocean farming is making waves, and it promises not just to help reduce the effects of overfishing and ocean acidification – it has also the potential to mitigate climate change and turn an ailing small fishing industry into a thriving restorative ocean farming one.

Our seas are not what they used to be. Acidified, over-fished, polluted, oxygen-depleted. And it’s not just the marine ecosystem that’s under threat from these issues, but our entire food system and our very survival too.

GreenWave have developed a system of sustainable underwater vertical farming that helps reduce the pollution, acidification and overfishing of our oceans, while also helping to mitigate the effects of climate change, and producing sustainable edible crops and derivates. Their vertical sea farming system uses the whole water column from sea-bed to surface to grow seaweed, scallops and mussels. These crops and colonies attach themselves onto floating ropes which are placed above oyster and clam cages. 

© GreenwaveORG Greenwave’s new method of ecological and restorative 3D ocean farming

The crops are ‘zero input’ – meaning they do not require any fertilisers, pesticides, antibiotics, or freshwater – and are not just edible in themselves, but can also be used in the production of fertiliser, animal feed and biofuel. And according to the company, the system can provide 10 to 30 tonnes of sea vegetables and 250,000 shellfish per acre (1 acre = 0.4 hectare) per year.

By sequestering nitrogen, sea crops and shellfish help reduce and prevent marine oxygen depletion and ‘dead-zones’ in our seas (the main culprit of which is the nitrogen runoff from land-based agriculture and industry). On top of all that, kelp absorbs five times more carbon than land-based plants, meaning it also has huge potential for climate change mitigation.

A vision for the sea and its keepers

GreenWave vertical sea-farming is not only a tool to help mitigate climate change and reduce acidification, overfishing and pollution in our oceans. By encouraging the next generation of restorative ocean farmers, through seed-to-harvest training and sales and marketing support for example, the organisation ensures that future generations are equipped to look after our oceans, and ultimately enables them to do what they have done for a very long time: support our food supply and our ecosystem. In doing so, the organisation also helps create jobs and a blue-green economy infrastructure.

And their vision?

A day when there are thousands of restorative ocean farms on coasts around the world contributing food, fertilizers, energy and much more to local economies, while saving our oceans – and ourselves.

Moving towards its vision, GreenWave is currently busy developing 15 farms. Anyone with a boat and 20,000 USD initial investment can partner up with the organisation to get their own vertical sea-farm started.

And here’s GreenWave’s founder Bren Smith telling us how and why it all came about:

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Overfishing

Global consumption of fish is outpacing natural production, posing a significant threat to marine ecosystems. Commercially valuable species such as tuna, swordfish, marlin, cod, halibut, skate, and flounder are fished at enormous quantities to the point where populations of said species are dangerously low.