A Next Level for Coastal Restoration

Saving coastal ecosystems using shellfish, seaweed and seagrass

As Ocean Conservancy has delved into addressing climate change, we have found that nature-based solutions offer some of the best ways to not only safely store carbon pollution in the ground and seafloor, but also provide habitat and ecosystem benefits. We support government policies to do this work and invited Running Tide to explain what this looks like. 

Guest author Marty Odlin, Running Tide CEO, is a third generation fisherman and engineer by training. He founded Running Tide in 2017 to address the perilous changes he witnessed while working on the ocean. His vision is to develop a scalable solution that addresses numerous pieces of the climate puzzle, and to do so quickly in recognition that our planet is rapidly running out of time.

Imagine coastal ecosystems like a game of Jenga. A game of Jenga that’s halfway through and precariously teetering back and forth as we try to remove yet another block. If we keep removing blocks, the tower and all its pieces will come tumbling down. As coastal ecosystems are destroyed, so too are our livelihoods, our communities, our fisheries, our storm protection, our climate and our biodiversity.

We need to reinforce the structure, and we need to restore these coastal ecosystems. Of course, this isn’t a new idea. But to truly reverse the damage we’ve caused, we need to kick restoration efforts into the highest possible gear and restore faster than we are destroying (which is really fast). Millions of acres up and down the coasts need to be restored starting immediately.

At Running Tide, we are building the infrastructure and tools to do this. Our mission is to harness the power of the ocean to build a climate-positive future. A future where humans, the ocean and all its inhabitants live in balance. To do so, we have identified and studied the most restorative natural cycles in the ocean. We have also developed technologies to accelerate, scale and optimize those cycles.

Our focus is on shellfish, seagrass and seaweed. Alone, these species are incredible, but together they hold the power to rebuild what is lost. Shellfish filter seawater, create habitat and store carbon as they grow. Filtered water means more light reaches seaweed and seagrass in the water. More light means more photosynthesis and more oxygen for shellfish, crustaceans and juvenile fish, resulting in more carbon capture and more buffering against ocean acidification. This one-two punch can kickstart a much-needed positive feedback loop in our coastal ecosystems. Shellfish filter the water, allowing for more photosynthesis, which in turn reduces acidity in the water column creating better conditions for shellfish growth. All the while the shellfish and seaweed are cleaning the surrounding water and creating more habitat … you get the point—it’s a cycle.

Getty:Running Tide

Today, restoration is needed on a massive scale. More than 85% of oyster habitat has been lost globally. More than 90% of kelp forests are gone. The average number and severity of climate disasters continue to climb each year. Now is time for the next level of coastal restoration. Running Tide is prepared to act at the scale of the challenge. We are building shellfish hatcheries and floating nurseries to produce unprecedented quantities of shellfish seed each year.

We will restore thousands of acres of oyster reefs, kelp forests and seagrass beds around the world. These vast underwater gardens are healthy habitats that invite back biodiversity which, in turn, creates and sustains jobs for working waterfronts. More jobs and increased recreation create direct economic value. We can also protect our coastlines from storm surges and rising sea levels before even more disasters strike. Ultimately, we enable thriving coastal communities—communities that live in balance with the ocean once again.

The tower hasn’t tumbled yet, and we still have a chance to restore it with your help. If you are part of a working waterfront or coastal community, reach out to get involved or start a restoration project in your area

Browse Topics
Our work is focused on solving some of the greatest threats facing our ocean today. We bring people, science and policy together to champion innovative solutions and fight for a sustainable ocean.
Read more
View Current Posts
Back to Top Up Arrow