Brian von Herzen, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Climate Foundation, which is working on an innovation to restore natural ocean overturning circulation, a process that brings nutrient-rich waters to the sea surface and restores aquatic plant and animal productivity. The Climate Foundation has designed and developed the Marine Permaculture Array, a cutting-edge system to restore overturning circulation and restore life in ocean regions shut down by global warming  by placing pumps hundreds of meters below the surface, powered by wave energy, to manually restore overturning circulation in areas where it has stopped.

In today’s blog, Herzen shares his recent journey to Australia and New Zealand on the heels of the Aquacelerator kickoff. The trip was in preparation for deployment in the Indian Ocean region, where the Climate Foundation will be working with coastal communities to deploy and manage the array and harvest the seaweed. This will increase their capital while also restoring lively ecosystems, bringing fish back to areas that have been overfished and are now overrun by sea urchins. For more, listen to Herzen’s interview on Radio New Zealand.


Our intention after the Aquacelerator was to maximally utilize the opportunity to meet with key people throughout Australia and New Zealand who could make a difference in developing Marine Permaculture. We met with biologists and with climate change expert Professor Tim Flannery in Melbourne, with DFAT and CSIRO in Canberra, and with the Queensland state government, with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and with entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in Brisbane.  We even were interviewed by a popular science professor from Sydney, Dr. Karl, while in Queensland.

In New Zealand, we had planned an ocean expedition using our own resources to investigate the kelp forests off the north island.  The first week was spent organizing logistics ​and preparing for the trip.  The second week we traveled from the Bay of Islands, through the Cavalli Islands all the way to Whangaroa.  We captured video of key kelp forest species and how forage fish depend upon the kelp forest for habitat food and ecosystem support.

Primary production on substrates (center) supports fish surrounding the poor knight islands and heterotrophic life extending from throughout the sea to ecological crevices supporting niches of flora and fauna.
Primary production on substrates (center) supports fish surrounding the poor knight islands and heterotrophic life extending from throughout the sea to ecological crevices supporting niches of flora and fauna.

We heard that as rich as it was there, the kina sea urchin barrens were threatening the survival of the kelp forest all over New Zealand. We also heard that the Poor Knights island marine protected area would have an even greater abundance of fauna, so we spent the third week in Whangarei and organized a trip to these islands to capture the pristine ecosystem there.

The Poor Knights represents the closest model ecosystem to date of what we can aspire to with marine permaculture.  The abundance of fish was far greater than we experienced in other locations with much fishing.  These models can inform marine permaculture development and serve as a guide to future related innovations.

Preparing for another dive on the Poor Knights Marine Reserve, an ideal model for marine permaculture off the north island of New Zealand.
Preparing for another dive on the Poor Knights Marine Reserve, an ideal model for marine permaculture off the north island of New Zealand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *