Smith began with an overview of his former career “pillaging the seas” as a commercial fisherman and his ten-year quest to find a more sustainable way of making a living on the ocean. Wracked with guilt about being part of “one of the most unsustainable forms of food production on the planet going into some of the most unhealthy low quality food on the planet” he quit his job and turned to aquaculture. He soon discovered that this wasn’t much better — the practice involved pumping the fish with medicines, polluting local waters and producing “terrible tasting and quality fish.”

That is when he came up with the idea for ocean farms. “I ended up on Long Island Sound with a new programme to attract fishermen back into the industry by leasing shell fishing grounds for the first time in 150 years.”

His first few attempts were plagued by failure — he lost crops and all of his farming equipment two years in a row in hurricanes — but “failure is the mother of invention” as he puts it. He evolved the concept and submerged the farm underwater making it entirely hurricane proof. There were more unexpected benefits — anchored to the seafloor, the submerged farm acted as an artificial reef system attracting some 150 species of fish to the previously barren swath of water and it also acted as a hurricane surge protector. Above all, there were many environmental benefits to the practice. 

“The whole idea was to have a small footprint. I went from 100 acres (for his first attempt) to 20 acres by using the vertical columns…

“We are growing four types of shellfish two kinds of seaweed and even harvesting salt from our 20 acres. Here in Bermuda there are shells, seaweed, sponges… there are things we can grow that are restorative and help the environment.

“Oysters are the stunning agents of sustainability they filter 30 to 50 gallons of water a day pulling nitrogen out of the ocean. Over nitrogenation is the cause of the spreading dead zones…

“Kelp makes me a climate farmer because it soaks up five times the amount of carbon as land based plants they sequoia of the sea.

“It requires no fresh water no fertilizer or no arid land making it the most sustainable form of food and biofuel in the world and.”

These are just some of the environmental benefits he outlined for the farms and he said anyone her in Bermuda with 20 acres of ocean land, a boat and $50,000 (USD) could start their own farm and be up and running in the first year.

“This is our opportunity why can’t we make one million new ocean farmers in 10 years?” Some, especially politicians, say he’s crazy to think this would happen but in this day and age he said “maybe we just need a little bit of crazy.”

Original article




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