3D ocean farming: creating food while cleaning the ocean 

Fishers are using ropes and baskets to shape the future of food.

This article is an installment of Future Explored, a weekly guide to world-changing technology. You can get stories like this one straight to your inbox every Thursday morning by subscribing here.

A new model for ocean farming promises to help us feed Earth’s growing population — and it can improve the health of the oceans, too.

The U.N. predicts we’ll need to produce 60% more food by 2050 to support the growing population, but we’re already using most of the planet’s high-quality farmland. Meanwhile, climate change and some existing farming practices threaten the health of the farmed soil.

While the vast majority of the food we eat today is produced on land, the oceans do contribute to the global food supply, providing us with fish, mollusks, and crustaceans, as well as edible plants, such as kelp.

The farms improve ocean health by encouraging biodiversity and sucking pollutants from the water.

North American nonprofit GreenWave’s goal is to increase that contribution by helping farmers and fishers establish 3D ocean farms, which use ropes and baskets to grow different types of seafood in columns below the water’s surface.

Unlike many traditional fishing methods, which can disrupt ecosystems, these farms improve ocean health by encouraging biodiversity and sucking pollutants from the water.

In the first episode of Freethink’s new “Future Explored” video series, host Tom Carroll takes a closer look at both the benefits and challenges of 3D ocean farming. Watch the video to get the whole story, and subscribe to Freethink’s YouTube page to find out when new episodes drop.

We’d love to hear from you! If you have a comment about this article or if you have a tip for a future Freethink story, please email us at tips@freethink.com.

Related
boosting crop yield
How artificial intelligence is boosting crop yield to feed the world
The Gene Ranking Artificial Intelligence Network (GRAIN) identifies genes that act at a fundamental level in crop metabolism.
underwater garden
Dive into the world’s first underwater garden
An underwater garden off the coast of Italy is introducing the world to a new type of sustainable agriculture.
gene-edited wheat
Gene-edited wheat less likely to produce “probable carcinogen” acrylamide
A new gene-edited wheat contains 90% less of a compound that can turn into acrylamide — a likely carcinogen — when the crop is cooked.
After millennia of agricultural expansion, the world has passed “peak agricultural land”
This marks a historic moment in humanity’s relationship to the planet.
autonomous ships
Hyundai’s autonomous ship is the first to make a transoceanic journey 
Autonomous ships like the Prism Courage could make the seas safer, while also making shipping cleaner and more efficient.
Up Next
wastewater
Subscribe to Freethink for more great stories