Our oceans are in peril, but few of us recognise how vital the oceans are for human survival, after all they’re responsible for the very air we breathe, and absorb much of what we breathe out. 

Most Australians live on the coast, our lifestyles and our economy depend on it, but that doesn’t translate into us caring for it. 

Paul Holthus knows these challenges well, he’s President and CEO of the World Ocean Council and he will be in Sydney next week to speak at the impact Investment Summit. 

He will be joined on stage by Nick Chiarelli, Co-founder, Ocean Impact Organisation, and we spoke to Nick to try to understand why there’s such apathy about the health of our oceans and what opportunities exist to shift capital to the cause. 

What’s the number one challenge facing our oceans, that you’re working to bring attention to?

If I had to single out the No 1 challenge facing our oceans it’s a lack of understanding. A lack of understanding of the variety of challenges it faces, a lack of understanding of how fundamental it is to the quality of life that we currently enjoy on earth, and a complete lack of understanding of how if we look after it it can be one of our most important assets when mitigating the impacts of climate change and feeding a growing population. Most people have no idea that the ocean is responsible for producing every 2nd breath that we take and sequesters around a third of all carbon that we emit.

What are the main investment opportunities for Australian investors wanting to contribute to ocean health?

There’s a range of investment opportunities across the ocean impact spectrum – ocean plastics is thankfully now a well understood problem with a range of investable opportunities in plastic monitoring & collection, plastic credits, waste and recycling, plastic replacement bio products and textiles, and many more. 

Sustainable aquaculture, including seaweed, is an exciting space for its potential to meet a growing population’s nutritional needs whilst taking pressure off wild fish populations. 

Seaweed is also seen as the frontrunner to reduce the world’s reliance on virgin petroleum plastics. And, climate solutions is a rapidly emerging area where a range of nature based solutions, processes and new technologies are being developed as sources of large scale carbon sequestration.

Can you give us an example of a high-impact ocean-focussed startup that you’re excited about?

SeaForest was the winner of The Ocean Impact Pitchfest 2021. They are conducting a range of trials to start commercially farming asparagopsis seaweed that the CSIRO has proven can reduce methane emissions in cows and sheep by up to 99%, by replacing only 2% of their feed with the asparagopsis supplement. 

The challenge now is for the world to scale up commercial production of asparagopsis and Sea Forest are best placed to do this. With methane emissions from animal agriculture contributing 15% of global GHG emissions the impact of farming asparagopsis at scale is enormous.

The Blue Opportunity Deep-Dive event is being held on Friday 1st April. Paul Holthus and Nick Chiarelli will be joined by Tim Silverwood and Michael van Niekerk. 

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