Investing In Oceans is Good Business

Investing in the Blue Economy, or ocean conservation, could yield $2-$5 for every $1 spent. The oceans are our lifeline to the future.

Taking action to protect the world’s oceans not only has environmental benefits but economic ones, according to a report by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. Investing $2 to $3.7 trillion globally in oceans from 2020 to 2050 would generate $8.2 to $22.8 trillion in net benefits, which implies a rate of return of investment (ROI) of 400 to 615 percent. Sustainable ocean-based investments yield benefits at least five times greater than the costs, the report shows.

For every $1 invested in specific areas of ocean conservation, more is yield in benefits. Consider two areas: mangrove conservation and restoration and decarbonizing international shipping and reducing emissions. Every $1 invested in mangrove conservation and restoration yields a benefit of $3. Every $1 invested in decarbonizing international shipping and reducing emissions to net-zero yields $2 to $5 in benefits. Other benefits include: 

  • Every $1 invested in scaling up global offshore wind production generated benefits of $2 to $17. 
  • Every $1 invested in increasing the production of sustainably sourced fish and seafood yields $10 in benefits.

Investing in the blue economy

A Credit Suisse report found that there is interest among investors in investing in the ocean, or what the report terms the blue economy. However, three in four investors responded to a survey saying they have not assessed their portfolios for their impact on the ocean and 21 percent are completely unaware of ocean exposure and risk in an investment context. Nearly a third of asset owners do not address the sustainable blue economy at all in their current investments. 

There are barriers for investors and asset owners when it comes to investing in the blue economy. For investors, they include a lack of investment-grade projects and no internal expertise. For asset owners, the barriers include not offering any products or raising the topic amongst them. There is good news. The blue economy “is poised for an increase in importance over the coming decade, with over a third of investor respondents seeing it as amongst the most important topics in 2030,” according to the report. And there are already early-stage opportunities.

Companies turning ocean plastic into products

Some companies are already capitalizing on the blue economy by turning ocean plastic into products. One of those companies is Adidas which incorporates ocean plastic into their shoes. Adidas is a founding member of the global network called Parley for the Oceans. The company works with Parley to transform ocean plastic waste for use in its apparel and shoes. All of its Parley products contain ocean plastic collected by partner organizations on shores and coastal areas in the Maldives. 

Method is another company that incorporates ocean plastic into its products. It uses a blend of ocean plastic and post-consumer recycled plastic to package its two-in-one dish and hand soap. The company partnered with local beach clean-up groups and volunteers to collect plastic waste from Hawaiian beaches to use in its plastic bottles. 

Other companies incorporating ocean plastic into their products include 4Ocean which makes a dolphin bracelet made from ocean plastic. The salon professional hair care line Kevin Murphy uses ocean plastic in the plastic bottles that house its products, while Solgaard’s backpacks and fanny packs are made from plastic waste collected from beaches in the Philippines. What all of these companies prove is that there is money to be from caring for the world’s oceans. 


Photo by Ray Aucott on Unsplash

New Rules In California Protect Endangered Whales and Sea Turtles

In a sea of bad news, we welcome any good news. Out of the golden state, comes that bit of good news we all need. The state of California recently took action to protect sea life. 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department) released a new rule to reduce the risk of marine life, including endangered whales and sea turtles, becoming entangled in commercial Dungeness crab gear. The new rules went into effect on November 1, 2020, and apply to humpback whales, blue whales, and Pacific leatherback sea turtles.  

lawsuit and severe increases in whale entanglements prompted the state to enact the new rule. The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit in 2017 after whale entanglements off the California coast broke records for three years in a row. In 2016, of the 29 cases where the gear could be identified that entangled, 22 were commercial Dungeness crab gear from California. Humpback whales were identified in 17 of the cases and one leatherback sea turtle was found dead and entangled in rock crab gear. The lawsuit led to an agreement in 2019 with the state to end the last two crab seasons before the spring whale migration. 

“It’s good to see California finally taking whale entanglements seriously,” said Kristen Monsell, the Center’s oceans legal director, in a statement. “This new system should reduce the risk crab gear poses to whales and sea turtles. But we’re disappointed that officials didn’t do more to encourage conversion to ropeless gear, which is the only way to truly eliminate the threat of entanglement for these ocean animals.”

The danger of Dungeness crab traps

Fish harvesters catch Dungeness crab with circular steel traps on the seafloor. Bait in the traps attracts the crab and the traps capture them. The thick ropes connected to the commercial Dungeness crab traps entangle whales and sea turtles, injuring and killing them. The ropes cut into the flesh of the whales and turtles, causing them to drown. When whales become entangled in crab gear, they often end up trailing fishing gear behind them, which can sever appendages. Around 75 percent of whale entanglements are fatal. Entangled sea turtles can drown from being anchored to the gear. 

Dungeness crab traps are the most common gear identified in entanglements off the West Coast. The state’s new Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program evaluates the necessity of mitigation measures like shortening the season or closing an area to crab gear to reduce entanglements.

Protecting endangered marine animals

California’s new rules protect endangered marine animals off of the state’s shores. In 1970, the U.S. federal government listed humpback whales as endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act, and under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Known for their long flippers, humpback whales are still protected as endangered in four out of the 14 distinct population segments, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The longest animal on earth, the blue whale has a heart the size of a Volkswagen Beetle and weighs up to 200 tons. The loudest animal on earth, the blue whale is louder even than a jet engine. First listed as endangered in 1970, the blue whale is protected by the ESA throughout its range. 

Named for their shells which have a texture more like leather than hard like other turtles, leatherback sea turtles are the largest sea turtle species. Pacific leatherbacks migrate from the Coral Triangle to the California coast. Their global population decreased by 40 percent over the last three generations. All leatherback populations are protected under the ESA. 

The Sea is Confused

A Harbormaster’s Reflection on a Life Watching the Sea

From Doc Ricketts to Mack to Dora Flood, Monterey is the stuff of legend, the iconic fishing town hugging the Pacific Coast of central California.

Brought to life by the characters of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, the abundance of Monterey Bay fueled Steinbeck’s imagination. More than just characters in a novel, Monterey is quintessentially a community of people and their relationship with the sea.

Continue reading “The Sea is Confused”