Target: Bren Smith, Founder of Thimble Island Oyster Company
Goal: Thank Mr. Smith for pioneering a new sustainable aquaculture method and working to heal our oceans
An innovative new method for harvesting food from the ocean is being developed off a small cluster of islands in Long Island Sound. Thimble Island Oyster Company, near Branford, Connecticut, has been cultivating shellfish, edible seaweed, and biofuel in a low-impact, diverse form of aquaculture known as vertical farming, or 3D farming. The 40 acre farm utilizes the entire water column to support a biodiverse underwater garden, which is designed to restore, rather than deplete, the marine environment. The system, which features seaweed and mussels growing on floating ropes while oysters and clams grow in cages below, produces hyper-local, sustainable seafood, organic fertilizer, and biofuel, all while helping to mitigate climate change, combat ocean acidification and pollution, and improve habitat for native marine species.
Thimble Island’s founder, Bren Smith, was a commercial fisherman who realized that his industry was going extinct. An astonishing number of global fisheries have already collapsed – due mainly to overfishing, but aided by climate change and pollution from nitrogen, plastic, and oil spills. A recent international survey of marine life found that around 90% of large fish have disappeared from the world’s seas, and the ocean has become 30% more acidic since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, threatening corals, shellfish, and many of the plankton that are the very basis of life in a marine ecosystem. The shellfish and seaweed grown in the farm are not only both good sources of protein that require no agricultural inputs, they are also both natural water filters, sucking out nitrogen from agricultural runoff and absorbing the carbon that causes acidification.
This ambitious venture is one of the first farms of this type in the U.S., but the potential for the vertical farming model to be replicated and scaled up is enormous. Scientists have estimated that a network of seaweed farms equaling the size of Washington State could provide enough protein to feed the entire world. This restorative and bountiful system has game-changing implications for both our global food systems and our oceans. Tell Bren to keep up the good work.
Dear Mr. Smith,
Your 3D farming innovation is a beacon of hope in an increasingly dark and lifeless ocean. As coral reefs disappear and marine species continue to be depleted, it is heartening to know both that there are people who care and that solutions exist.
I sincerely hope that your model’s dissemination will provide a blueprint for sustainable food systems and ocean resource management around the world. Thank you for all that you have done to shed light on these important issues and address the interrelated challenges of ocean health, global food supply, and climate change.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Yinghai via flickr