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In this podcast Dr. Pedram Shojai speaks with Bren Smith, founder of Green Wave and Thimble Island Ocean Farm, to better understand sustainable seafood farming. They discuss issues and challenges of fishing, farming and the food production. Bren Smith is a sustainable farming expert in Long Island, Connecticut. A high school dropout at age 14 and growing up in Canada, Bren began fishing for industries such as McDonalds. Being out at sea catching cod and crab for three months at a time, Bren found great meaning and a sense of solidarity in what he was doing. He says “it was a great job” and more importantly found “a sense of meaning of helping feed my country.”
We often criticize our coal miners and fisherman for doing the work that they do in the industrialized economy. But being brought up in an economy where there are no real profession jobs and educational awareness of the alternatives to power, feed, and build their country. Bren had his wakeup call seeing thousands thrown out of jobs in the 1990s when Comstock crashed in his hometown. He began to realize that environmentalism is more about the economy, not the environment itself. Bren began to see that his job, actions, and his fate are all tied to the economy and culture that can be wiped out in an ecological collapse.
This situation sent him on a journey of economical redemption for sustainability.
Bren initially started out farming salmon ponds but soon realized they used the same horrible practices as land agriculture and it’s not economically or ecologically sensible.
Bren’s objective is to create restorative ocean farms that have an impact on the climate. A stationary ocean farm on the other hand has a light footprint. With this low-tech, pro-active approach, he hopes to break down the conception of food system, of water seafood and land food. This approach can increase food production without increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
Brent looked at the ocean and asked “what are its unique qualities as an ecosystem that makes sense what to grow there?” He found essentially the most sustainable food production in the planet have two things 1. Farming shellfish and seaweed that does not require fresh water, no land or feeding. 2. And find ways to bring life back into the ecosystem.
Green Wave has set up a system that is good, just, community based and scalable. These scalable solutions that not only make the world better place can and put money back in the hands of people. At $25-$50 an acre, fish farming is affordable and allow people to invest in themselves and in a more sustainable environmental. They provide training and resources for people who want to start their own fish farm. Bren’s vision is to beginning to create platforms where farmers and the community can come together to build best practices and rebuild the ecosystem.