Monday, October 19, 2020

Fish Farming—"Unlikely champions of aquaculture: Alexandra Cousteau"

From The Fish Site:

The scion of the Cousteau dynasty discusses the benefits of restorative aquaculture, the importance of connecting consumers with aquatic farmers and her new initiative, Oceans 2050.

What inspired you to devote your life to the wellbeing of the oceans?

I probably have a bit of a unique perspective in the ocean space, because I've literally grown up in it. I could swim before I could walk and learned to dive with scuba from my grandfather, Jacques Cousteau, at the age of seven. Though I have seen the degradation of the marine environment, I believe that we can aspire to leave our children an ocean abundant with life and reverse the flow of plastic away from the ocean. My work now consists of public speaking, advising nonprofits, government and industry, as well as collaborating with communities, the media, and forward-thinking brands. It was this drive that led me to form Oceans 2050.

We will lean heavily on our scientific adviser. Everything that we will do will be based heavily on science and what science says is possible. Our goal is to democratise the ability to create change within the ocean community. This is essential because right now it's dominated by a few big players, and they're doing good work, but we really need an army of solutions for an army of problems. There are so many other players out there who are doing really good work. Ocean 2050’s goal is to enable and accelerate their work and their leadership, to bring visibility to their efforts and get support for them.

We're not a traditional nonprofit that focuses on funding our programmes and producing an annual report. We're not a business for hire. We're foundation-owned, a social business focused on social and environmental good.

We've already launched a project for developing the Voluntary Carbon Protocol for seaweed aquaculture and have 20 farms participating, including a 300-year-old Japanese seaweed farm and we’d love to have other farms participate.

One thing we will be drilling into is figuring out how much carbon a seaweed farm sequesters. We are going to do DNA testing to see how the farms, once they were established, changed the biodiversity of the area. This is a place where we can develop a market for public good – one that spurs seaweed aquaculture and makes it easier for them to get social licence and investment to scale around the world.

One key ingredient missing is compensation. These farmers have to be compensated for their work. Oceans 2050 wants to bring compensation to stewardship rather than exploitation. That's really important. We need to create a powerful shift and create catalytic tools that bring transformative change.

What are the most crucial issues facing the oceans?

Coral reefs are extremely urgent. They are the source of biodiversity for the oceans. They are the most critical ecosystems on the planet. With business as usual on our part, they will likely collapse. The clock is ticking in the race to find solutions to rebuild and restore our coral reefs, obviously fighting against climate change and all these other negative impacts. We're looking at new technologies that can give us solutions. There are a lot of exciting new technologies out there for coral reefs, such as ocean afforestation – whether it's seaweed aquaculture or wild ocean forests. We urgently must use them to accelerate that transformation....