The high seas area beyond EEZ, which has been declared Common Heritage of Humanity by United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982, covers half of the world ! About to be ruled by UNO in the next years, this space should really benefit to everybody on earth, and not only to hegemonic nations or world companies, who have the capacity to uphold their interests and plunder the riches. That is why, I think that UNO should create an independent entity which belongs to each human being, passing over the nations. With an appropriate constitution, this entity could be able to govern the Commons and remunerate directly each of us on earth in sharing equitably the benefits. It will be few things for us the rich, but many for all the poor people, the beginning of an universal income.
Meanwhile, I wish to pay my taxes in kind, as a part of my production, left for example at the disposal of the World Food Program (WFP). This set apart, what a fairer distribution of wealth, when the same animal protein is affordable and directly consumed by the poorests, while it is used as animal feed by the richest, who will finally pay more for their food.
Alongside the production of proteins, this intended high sea infrastructure is also a good opportunity to provide natural ingredients for the cosmetics industry. Thanks to the biological affinity between our blood and seawater, between our cells and marine ones, cosmetics containing marine active agents provide the best skin affinity. The constantly growing market of natural cosmetics already faces scarcity in uncontaminated materials in sufficient quantities. The consumers’ understandable tendency to seek for natural ingredients in their cosmetics, no longer allows the industry to reproduce artificially molecules they find interesting in the nature. In order to be both accepted and praised, these ingredients need to be produced naturally in a healthy and sustainable way. Chemically synthesized molecules or even cultures in stainless steel or plastic tanks will not be able to compete with cultures in natural seawater from before the Anthropocene.
Another opportunity is a possible carbon sink. By a low average of 200 tons mussels per hectare per year, 75% composition that is shell, represents 150 tons of aragonite and calcite containing 12% of carbon, that are 18 tons. In comparison, a growing forest on land retains only 4 tons of carbon per hectare per year. But there is a scientific debate about the real global carbon cycle during the biomineralization process of shells. Either it is a carbon sink due to evident carbon sequestration (calcium carbonate is a fossil carbon reservoir of biological origin, like coal or petroleum), or it is a carbon source due to the absorption of the existing dissolved calcium carbonate in sea, induced water acidification and decreasing of atmospheric CO2 assimilation by it, alongside the animal's breathing which produces CO2. In my opinion, mussel's breathing cannot be counted into their carbon budget, because this carbon release finds its origin in the phytoplankton's carbon, which would have been released anyway. If this is accepted, shell cultivation could count and be financed as a carbon offsetting, in the same way as tree planting, with healthy marine proteins as a gift.
You can read more about it with Dr David Moore's publication "a biotechnological expansion of shellfish cultivation could permanently remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere".
Set apart the intended production on Davis Bank, a carbon sink, if it is really one, could easily and massively be deployed from this place. Given the large biomass of mussels' larvae (each female lays 1 million eggs), combined with the fact that in oligotrophic waters, mussels can grow quite normal shell without growing much flesh, can constitute an important calcite and aragonite production. Little biodegradable swimming devices with fixed mussel larvae from Davis Bank can be abandoned in the surface passing Brazil Current (BC), flowing then south-easterly towards the South Atlantic Gyre. The shells will grow and, after a while, will sink by their weight. The carbon will then be sequestrated in the ocean's depths, at least until reaching the calcite compensation depth. Even from there on, dissolved carbonates would take a good thousand years to surface again.
This oasis of life on Davis Bank, boosted by man, will result in lots of contacts with wild organisms, which will inspire other challenges. Sea breams, for example, will come and crunch mussels. Dolphins, seals or other marine mammals will also be attracted and could bring the final touch. Indeed, those particular species can be formed (educated) to select wild fish shoals in the surroundings and gather them into settled nets for this purpose.
Take a look at the trailer below about cooperative fishing between dolphins and fishermen in Laguna, Brazil!
(Courtesy: Longtail Distribution Network)
These marine mammals have proven at several places on earth to be very collaborative in hunting down fish together with mankind, in Brazil, but also in Mauritania and in Myanmar as well. These symbiotic bonds are lasting since generations, even since the 15th century in Mauritania, and are based on trusting relationships between individuals who do well out of it together. Combined with dophins' ability to recognize figures and colors, as demonstrated on a daily basis in marine parks, their goodwill could effectively be used to herd schools of targeted fish species towards prepared fishing nets.
This could be the solution to avoid today’s fisheries’ bycatch and stop their too large energy spending that makes them economically unsustainable without subsidies. We need to change our old hunter habits and imagine new possibilities to take advantage of our oceans AND preserve them. We can start settling the "Far Wet" on Davis Bank because of its ideal environment, but there are lots of seamounts awaiting us until this technology has been validated.
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