Five months ago, the Blue Economy Challenge partners launched a call for ideas that would revolutionize the relationship between seafood and ocean health. We wanted help disrupting the aquaculture industry with new sustainable products and systems. We asked innovators worldwide to send in their ideas, and they delivered.

By the time the application period closed on June 30, we received 220 applications in total, with 41 countries represented. Teams from a diverse range of sectors contributed to the challenge, from academia and industry to NGOs and individual entrepreneurs. And the ideas they sent in are fantastic! We’re in the process of reviewing all of the applications– here are some examples of the diverse range of ideas we’ve seen so far.

  • Challenge 1 (30% of submissions): Rethinking Feed for Aquaculture. Some ideas do not rely on wild-caught fish to produce feed, for example, using food or agricultural waste to grow feedstock, using micro- and macroalgae for feed, or sourcing protein from alternative sources to create new feeds.
  • Challenge 2 (20% of submissions): Developing New Ocean Products. Ideas ranged from finding new uses for species hybridization and breeding to expanding small-scale farms of some less-commonly farmed aquatic plants and animals.  Creating more disease-resilient species through hybridization and breeding
  • Challenge 3 (50% of submissions): Sustainable Design for Aquaculture. We’re seeing ideas for new types of feeding systems, more energy-efficient tanks, multi-species farm designs, open data for farmers to use, and more.

Throughout the past five months, we’ve met a host of inspiring people whose work connects them to the ocean. We snorkeled in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef with marine biologist Maya Knowles, who told us about the threat of coral bleaching. We talked to chefs at iconic seafood restaurants Nautilus and Thala, who developed special menus for World Oceans Day. In Monterey Bay, Calif., we harvested and cooked abalone from a sustainable sea farm, taking it literally from ocean to table. We talked to innovators from across the U.S. at the 2016 Ocean Sciences meeting in New Orleans, La.

These people are not just helping save the ocean. They’re learning about it, mapping it, teaching others about it, finding new ways to use its resources, and developing tools for a more sustainable future. It’s been an honor to share these stories. And we can’t wait to see the innovations that come out of the Blue Economy Challenge– those stories have yet to be written.

What’s next? The applications will go through a rigorous judging process with panels of peer reviewers from diverse organizations (including academia, non-profit, industry, government, and finance) and backgrounds (innovation, aquaculture, marine sciences, and business management, and more). Applicants should look out for an email from challenge organizers in early August– that’s when we’ll notify participants about the status of their applications. 10 to 15 finalists will be selected to deliver virtual pitch sessions. Finally, the winners will be announced by the end of September.

Thanks to everyone who joined the #BlueRevolution for sustainable aquaculture and ocean health. We hope this journey has been an inspiring one!

Photo: World Fish

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