Eco friendly: Ocean farmer Bren Smith harvests seaweed as a sustainable industry. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
Eco friendly: Ocean farmer Bren Smith harvests seaweed as a sustainable industry. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead

Imagine a new type of local farming industry that, rather than being spread out across fields and allotments, is submerged in the abundant waters surrounding the island.

And rather than producing beef, lamb and vegetables, it produces oysters, scallops and seaweed. And it’s not only food the farms would provide — seaweed could be harvested to produce fuel and fertilisers. 

Bermuda would be an ideal location for such an industry and would not only provide a welcome income for some of the island’s fishermen but would help to restore ocean ecosystems and mitigate climate change.

This is according to industrial fisherman turned “3D ocean farmer” Bren Smith who will be talking at the upcoming Tedx conference about how this newly found industry is thriving in the Long Island Sound.

Smith, who was chosen as one of six “Ocean Heroes” by the Oceana and Future of Fish’s Ocean Entrepreneur of the Year, told the Bermuda Sun: “In my home town, and so many up and down the coast, there are struggling fishing communities and it is really time to combine environmental goals with economic goals. 

“As far as Bermuda, I think there are some real opportunities there. As a basic principle we should all be doing an ecosystem analysis of our local waters to see what restorative crops there are what are things we can grow that actually improve environmental and ocean quality. 

“Some of the things that could be grown in Bermuda are scallops, oysters, sponges, urchins and for the seaweeds gracilaria which can be used for food, organic fertiliser as well as cosmetic and pharmaceutical uses.

“During my talk I will cover the whole arch over my career since I was 14 — how I started out as a pillager of the seas working the industrial fishery then moving over time during my time as a restorative 3D ocean farmer.  

“Then I will move into how I think 3D farming could provide a reimagining of our oceans to address the major crises we are facing such as overfishing, climate change and really building a blue green economy.”

Smith said he hopes to meet with locals with relevant areas of expertise during his trip to the island.

“I hope to meet with scientists and folks who really understand the local waters and scratch our heads to see what is possible. The fact that there is already a marine tradition in Bermuda is really important as it wouldn’t take a total reskilling of the workforce. People know how to fish and run boats and that is really important for doing this quickly and viably. 

“The other thing is it is really pretty simple to do. But you really need political and community interest to experiment with something new. It might seem a little strange for fishermen going from chasing fish and being hunters to quietly farming small plots — it is a big shift. 

“It will also be exciting to bring together farmers, scientists and chefs together to discuss the opportunities.” n

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