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OCT. 29, 2021

Blue is the new green

The ocean economy includes everything from shipping and fishing to offshore wind energy and alternative seafood. According to an OECD study, such economy is expected to exceed $3 trillion by 2030, buoyed by record venture funding and tech innovation. The oceans have played an important role to human progress throughout history and traditionally, they provide vast, almost infinite, room for growth.

However, there are increasing concerns about the state of the seas. Earlier in May, the UN launched the second World Ocean Assessment reporting about the state of our oceans, in order to better understand the relationships of human activity on its health. The outcome is clear: the oceans are deteriorating. Unsustainable over-fishing is depleting fisheries, with 70% of the world’s fish populations already fully used, overused, or in crisis. Water pollution due to plastic waste is worsening with dire effects on the ecosystem. Agricultural runoff increases water acidification, which endangers all marine life. Those concerns are echoed by the UN SDG 14, aiming to improve the life under water.

As a response to those concerns, capital is being raised at unprecedented rates across geographies to mitigate all aspects of ocean deterioration. In the U.S., multiple venture funds are launched to invest in sea-faring projects, with the latest announcing a $100 million ocean specific fund. Meanwhile, in Europe, a leading asset manager launched a $212 million ocean health impact fund.

Being ocean health a vertical focused effort to improve oceans, activities range from coral farming and regeneration to rising sea levels defense systems. Ocean-bound plastic removal and upcycling is of special importance and many startups have that as a mission.

A solution to the fishery problem could come through aquaculture, which is the fastest-growing food-production sector according to the Economist. Innovators are working to make the industry more efficient and sustainable, by bringing modern technology to an aging industry. Those innovations include forecasting tools, feeding and monitoring tools, disease alerts. Others are trying to eliminate fishing altogether by developing alternative seafood, an industry projected to grow 28% annually over the next decade, almost twice the rate of the total retail food market. Many new companies are developing plant-based seafood alternatives, including plant-based tuna and shrimp. Global players are moving in a similar direction, with Nestle announcing its own line of vegan shrimp.

Seaweed farming is growing too. As farmland and freshwater are becoming more and more scarce, the ocean bed is providing a new alternative. Seaweed can have many uses, from direct human consumption to animal feed and bio-fuels. Seaweed farming is complimentary to aquaculture, as it cleans the water by absorbing fish waste and nutrients runoff. Its low maintenance requirements make it suitable for many underused areas, as it is immune to dry spells, storms and other harsh conditions typically limiting farming. Finally, it removes CO2 from the atmosphere, providing a potential for emissions offsetting revenue.

We thank you for the continued support.

The FAM team