About Ocean Nourishment Foundation
Mankind has used agricultural fertilizers for centuries to promote the growth of crops on land. This has had positive effects in terms of increased food production, sustaining larger world populations than previously possible, but, where over-fertilisation has occurred, there have been adverse outcomes, particularly downstream in rivers and oceans.
The oceans, like the land, need levels of nutrients which are neither too high nor too low to be productive. The Ocean Nourishment Foundation is trying to learn what these limits are so as to enable currently under producing parts of the oceans to increase their fertility. By so doing, it is intended to both increase food production for the benefit of those most in need of increased protein, and simultaneously achieve an increased level of carbon capture by the oceans.
The state of the world's fisheries is of concern. The collapse of the Northern cod stocks in Canada and the "fishing down" of the marine food chain have been newsworthy of late and brought calls for action. These calls are usually in the form of proposals for reduced fishing effort. While national subsidies support fishing activities far in excess of the sustainable catch, the prospects of sustainable fishing practices are dim. An alternative approach is to increase the stocks of wild fish by nourishing the ocean to increase production potential. This is analogous with land-based agricultural practices where well managed farms have progressively increased yields, and in a similar fashion the supply of fish can be increased rather than the catch decreased. Jones and Young* have recently proposed that to enhance the marine food web the nutrients in short supply could be delivered to the ocean by pipeline from shore based facilities, by ship, or by manufacture on floating platforms.
The concept of selective, controlled fertilisation, named Ocean Nourishment™ holds considerable promise in both areas provided it is implemented responsibly. The process involves the nourishment of "desert" regions of the ocean with nitrogen-rich fertilizers to promote the controlled growth of phytoplankton. In growing, phytoplankton take carbon dioxide from the surrounding water which in turn is replenished from the atmosphere. Phytoplankton are at the base of the food chain in the oceans and their growth stimulates the growth of fish populations.
The Ocean Nourishment Foundation is currently in a phase of assisting researchers move forward with a carefully graduated series of research and experiments which will examine the concept and its consequences and, provided no adverse consequences appear, promote this concept to deliver increased fish stocks.
ONF also recognises that simply increasing fish stocks is not enough. Also needed is a range of parallel actions to provide a legislative framework to control access to these fish stocks, and assist subsistence fishing communities to gain access to them, to harvest them and to land and distribute them successfully. To this end we are currently studying fishing communities in various countries to ascertain the constraints under which these fisher people operate, and to develop strategies to assist them.
The Ocean Nourishment Foundation will pursue its objectives by:
- seeking to understand (and implement) the ways in which enhanced quantities of fish can raise the living standards of subsistence fishing communities and broader regional communities
- providing sensitive assistance towards the social, economic and intellectual development of all members of these communities by way of education, microfinance and any other form of appropriate help
- advancing the technology and underlying science of Ocean Nourishment™ particularly as it relates to the growth, management and aggregation of wild fish stocks
- developing monitoring technology to assist in the regulation of fishing effort and of fish resources for the benefit of the intended recipients
- being transparent and placing in the public domain all significant knowledge gained as is appropriate for a not-for-profit charity
Overseas Development Program
The Ocean Nourishment Foundation Overseas development program is underway in India, the Philippines, and China. ONF signed a MOU with a Chinese fisheries institute to transfer technology for increasing the carrying capacity of the ocean. The additional protein to come from Chinese waters will aid the poor.