The Opportunity of Ocean-Based Investing

The Opportunity of Ocean-Based Investing

On June 8th, it will be World Oceans Day, a concept started in 1992 to encourage and inspire collective action to support healthy oceans and a stable climate.

As with Earth Day, there’s something slightly ironic or incongruous about honoring something so incredibly vast – 71% of our planet – via a single commemorative day. As if a day or even a month of LinkedIn posts and flowery corporate pledges will do anything more than serve as a pat on the back. 

But when it comes to the ocean, that’s a pattern. Its potential, its value, its beauty is never quite met with due respect or action. Even in the climate change community. 

Too often, we have tunnel vision. We focus on singular, isolated acts like cracking down on illegal fishing, building electric boats, implementing sustainable deep sea mining, or sequestering carbon via sinking seaweed as ways to protect the ocean. But we’re not looking at the bigger picture or the greater benefit. We’re underselling it.

Our goal post shouldn’t just be about making “better use” of the ocean. That’s a part of it – but it’s more than that. It’s also about alleviating the pressure on terrestrial resources including water, energy and land use, reducing deforestation, reducing pesticides, cutting carbon emissions, improving nutrition, creating jobs. But even more than that, it’s about creating entirely new businesses and markets. 

This is why Third Nature is so optimistic and bullish about the so-called “Ocean Economy” and ocean-based investing. From reflecting on my time as a food system investor, I currently see the same underappreciated and undercapitalized opportunity with ocean-based investing as I saw in food systems around 2015: some glimmers of activity but still very niche and fragmented. Talented and committed entrepreneurs and innovative technologies are launching to tackle a wide range of challenges and developing new ocean-based companies.

We’re excited about the opportunity to support ocean-based activities that are sustainable and regenerative, that transform the ocean from a victim of our deleterious behavior to a source of new beginnings, and to truly usher in a modern and thriving 21st century economy that drives business and planetary success.

We see massive economic potential in the ocean and have been keen since our founding to support innovative companies that view their relationship with the ocean as a “partnership.”

In particular, we’re interested in the outstanding power of the humble seaweed. Seaweed is one of the most abundant and regenerative crops on the planet, soaks up excess nutrients, it helps reduce demand for terrestrial crops, it reduces agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, it supports marine life and biodiversity, reverses the effect of ocean acidification, and is a nutritious food to improve human health. Not to mention, seaweed can be foundational in disrupting everything from food to plastics to fashion, representing a resource that can be leveraged in a sustainable way to build entirely new business models.

We have invested in three incredible seaweed-focused companies – Atlantic Sea Farms, Sway, and Keel Labs – and throughout the month of June, we’ll be spotlighting each’s unique approach, business model, and impact via a new blog series that will illuminate what we think is an emerging opportunity to build real businesses, with real revenue, and real products that delight consumers and are in true partnership with our mighty blue ocean. 

Stay tuned!