business climate change

Ocean farming for Carbon Kapture

Ocean farming is something I keep an eye on. It’s potentially a climate solution, a way of feeding the world, and a way of restoring marine ecology, all at once. Unfortunately there’s not been a whole lot to report so far. I’m convinced this will change, and that within two or three decades ocean farming will be a major global enterprise providing us with food, plastics, fertiliser and biofuels.

Here’s one interesting new development in the field water: Carbon Kapture. They’re a start-up based in Poole, on the south coast of England. Their plan is to grow seaweed on ropes. Each one is 100 metres long, suspended from the top and anchored at the bottom, and seeded with sugar kelp along the length. As it grows, the seaweed absorbs carbon from the ocean water. The weed will be harvested and turned into biochar, locking the carbon away in the ground while improving the soil and reducing fertiliser use.

They’re about to launch their first seaweed farm, and you and I can be part of it. Carbon Kapture are inviting people to ‘sponsor a rope‘ to get them started. Sponsorships are open to individuals, and also to companies that want to incorporate ocean farming into their net zero plans. Seaweed grows a whole lot quicker than trees, so carbon offsets based in the ocean could have a positive impact much faster than sponsoring reforestation projects.

The farm will be located in Mulroy Bay in Ireland, in partnership with shellfish farmers. They hope to scale it up to 250 hectares, which would make it one of world’s largest seaweed projects. Partnerships with local land-based farmers will distribute and use the biochar. Strong local partnerships are something Carbon Kapture emphasize, so that seaweed farming benefits coastal communities, which are often economically marginalised.

Put all this together – carbon capture, healthy soils and support for coastal regions, and it’s a potentially powerful idea. It’s also quite new, at least at this scale. Seaweed has been traditionally farmed for aeons. Commercial farming is still in its infancy, especially for carbon capture. There’s no certification process for ‘blue carbon’ at the moment, which means that you can’t buy quantifiable carbon ocean-based offsets at the moment.

There’s now a bit of a chicken and egg situation: certification schemes are expensive and complicated to set up, and it’s hard to justify setting them up without a seaweed industry to use it. Equally, green investors and the offsets market look like the best source of funding to get ocean farming to scale. The whole industry needs courageous first movers like Carbon Kapture, and that’s why it’s worth supporting them with a sponsorship if you or your company are so inclined.

More on seaweed and ocean farming:

Can seaweed farming curb the climate impact of beef?

Cattle ranching is a climate catastrophe in the waiting. As demand for beef has grown, the global herd has grown to meet it, and there are now 1.5 billion cows in the world. The methane emitted by cows as they digest makes beef the most high-emission food on our plates, and altogether the emissions from…

Ocean farming comes to Britain

Ocean farming is one of the most promising ideas to feed a world with 9 billion people. Sea vegetables – lets not call them all weeds – are nutritious and eaten in many parts of the world. They are grown without fertilisers and pesticides, so they are always organic. No land or fresh water is…

10 different uses for seaweed

Ocean farming has vast potential for providing the world with food, materials and more. As a way of demonstrating the possibilities of seaweed farming, here are ten different uses for it: 1. Food – many cultures eat seaweed, mostly in Asia, where 99% of seaweed farming takes place. Other cultures used to eat more of…


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