The ocean’s wellbeing has been overlooked for too long, even though it plays an essential part in regulating global climate, providing food and protein for millions and being the most biodiverse place on the planet. The impact of human activity and unsustainable ways have resulted in the degradation of coral reefs, tons of plastic polluting waterways and the effects of overfishing to feed a growing population. Although this isn’t new, not much is being done or invested to protect the oceans.
Here to change that is Bumble Bee Seafood and Sustainable Surf’s SeaTrees Program. They have partnered with the goal of launching an ocean-regeneration effort in two countries, and of course, hoping for more corporate engagement and investment in projects focused on marine and coastal ecosystems and the regenerative benefits.
Michael Stewart, co-founder of SeaTrees, said in an interview that: “The organizations in our economy that have those types of dollars are for-profit companies, so that is key. Our SeaTrees platform is creating a space for brands to invest directly in ocean conservation”
Last year, Bumble Bee launched an innovative seafood sustainability initiative that includes pillars to protect fisheries, reduce bycatch and plastic pollution, and ensure that workers in its supply chain are protected through fair labor practices and community programs.
“When we began to hear and learn more about the incredible work that organizations and businesses across the world are doing to restore the ocean, it made sense to investigate further,” says Renee Junge, Bumble Bee’s VP of Corporate Strategy and Communications, told Sustainable Brand in an interview. “As we researched, it became clear that the ocean has an incredible regenerative effect, but we are at the point that we need to help those processes along.”
“It’s not often that you get an immediate response back, and all the way from the top,” Stewart says. “Their CEO, Jan Tharp, wanted to take time out of her schedule to meet us and see the project site. That tells you that this is a partnership.”
To begin, Bumble Bee will be investing to support the SeaTress program in Southern California, and Indonesia, where there’s already ongoing work with local partners to rehabilitate kelp and mangrove forests, rebuilding injured ecosystems that have the power to capture carbon and restore fisheries.
Meanwhile, in Southern California, the involvement of scientists in the project is key, as they will be assessing the carbon- capture capability and other benefits to the ecosystem. Hopefully, this will create sufficient data to impulse future projects and corporate involvement in kelp forest regeneration.
Needless to say, more direct investment and involvement will be needed in order to meet the ocean’s needs and challenges, such as efforts to help restore, regenerate and rehabilitate. This partnership seems promising and sets a model for other companies to get engaged with initiatives like this.