Today’s Solutions: January 21, 2022

What if locals in your area called you the “Oyster Wench”? For Catherine Puckett, it’s the highest honor there is. Puckett, who lives on an island off the coast of Rhode Island, represents a new generation of ocean farmers, one whose singular connection to the water is coupled with a passion for the environment.

She grows shellfish and kelp on her farm, located in the waters of the Great Salt Pond, using sustainable fishing methods that both preserve the ocean’s ecosystems and fight climate change. She is also one of a growing number of ocean farmers engaged in 3D farming, cultivating her crops vertically in straight up-and-down water columns, using no fertilizers, freshwater or feed. Puckett’s clams are buried and covered with nets to protect them from predators, while her oysters grow in bags and her kelp develops on lines.

The operation helps cut down on pollution in numerous ways. The shellfish help filter pollutants from the water. They also offer a source of protein to diners, who might otherwise eat beef, which is made from cows who burp and fart methane, a potent heat-trapping gas. For those who can’t give up their beef, ocean farming can help. Research shows that when cows eat a little seaweed, they produce less methane. Puckett’s seaweed growing operation also soaks up carbon and nitrogen, two pollutants lingering in the water.

The “Oyster Wench” has already made so many eco-friendly contributions to the waters that surround Rhode Island and shown the world what sustainable ocean farming looks, but she’s not done yet. Now she’s looking to use American’s first offshore wind turbines, which are located off the coast of Rhode Island, as future anchors to grow her seaweed. Bravo Catherine, bravo!

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