Oceans represent a major area of opportunity to solve our ecological challenges and enable a new 'Blue Economy' that generates sustainable wealth for humanity.
New Atlantis is an ocean regeneration project that provides Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) with a viable business model by making marine biodiversity (and life-driven blue carbon) an investable asset class. We're building an open protocol leveraging ocean metagenomics, with an initial release available on Github.
Our vision for living oceans... 🤿
As you might have guessed, we are very bullish on the living oceans as a vital way to regenerate the earth.
We see a future where humanity co-exists in harmony with our living seas and overcomes the twin existential crises of climate change and biodiversity loss—both of which threaten the stability of our global ecosystems and economy. In this introduction we are going to focus on the pivotal role marine biodiversity can play in this transition to a sustainable future.
Oceans 101 🌊
The oceans are the largest feature on earth, covering 70% of the surface of the planet. Unsurprisingly, the oceans are critical to many major global processes including ecological stability, oxygen production, food production, and the carbon cycle. What is perhaps less obvious is how biodiverse marine life is a major driver of many of those processes, and how protecting biodiversity can be a major wealth unlock for humanity.
Due to their scale and vast productivity, our global biodiverse marine ecosystems
- Feed nearly 3 billion people
- Produce 50% of the world’s oxygen
- Are the basis for the global food web
- Provide ecological resilience in the face of an increasingly volatile climate
- Provide an estimated US$29.5 trillion/year in marine ecosystem services to humanity
- Are critical to the ocean’s ability to sustainably sequester vast amounts of “blue carbon” via the marine carbon biological pump
Marine biodiversity 🐡
In other words, more biodiverse ocean life = more carbon sequestered, more food, more oxygen, greater resilience, more wealth creation, and a more beautiful world.
Unfortunately, marine biodiversity is under threat because our current economic systems lead to unsustainable practices like overfishing and pollution that focus on short term gains vs sustainable growth. If we do not find ways to arrest these processes, we could seriously damage our global ecosystems and face catastrophic changes in the planet’s ability to sustain life as we know it.
However, it is possible for humanity to effectively and sustainably partner with the oceans. By protecting marine biodiversity, we can very positively impact climate change AND provide a more abundant world for all.
So how do we both protect marine biodiversity AND help humanity thrive?
Photo used with permission by Octavio Aburto, PhD, Professor of Biological Oceanography, Scripps, Founding New Atlantis Advisor, Instagram
Marine Protected Areas and why they matter 🐠
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are the national parks of the oceans. MPAs are widely acknowledged as the best way to preserve and protect global marine biodiversity. In order to have globally sustainable oceans, the UN estimates we need 30% of the oceans in fully protected MPAs by 2030. Today, only 2.4% of the oceans are in fully protected MPAs.
This means we need to nearly 13x the amount of ocean in “fully protected” MPAs over the next 8 years. Unfortunately, MPAs overwhelmingly lack the resources to adequately protect life in their waters due to reliance on precarious government funding and traditional philanthropy.
So we must find ways to sustainably accelerate the deployment of full protection MPAs.
How we can protect our living oceans 🦭
New Atlantis believes the best way to scale MPAs is by providing MPAs with a viable business model that generates revenues based on MPA conservation efforts and outcomes achieved in their waters. We achieve this by creating an open marine metagenomics biodiversity analytics platform from which ecosystem health can be evaluated in order to issue blue carbon and biodiversity credits as a revenue source for MPAs.
Unpacking this further, we develop biodiversity metrics to measure and forecast the health of MPAs. MPAs can then use these biodiversity metrics to more effectively manage life in their waters and to develop blue carbon and biodiversity credits that can be sold to fund their operations. This process creates a sustainable revenue model that scales as MPAs expand their conservation efforts.
Additionally, expanding fully protected MPAs also can benefit local human populations. By protecting marine life in their waters, there is often increased—and sustainable—abundance in fisheries on the periphery of their full-protection zones which can mitigate any losses from not fishing within the protected areas.
Product & Roadmap 🗺
We have already launched our cloud-based Living Oceans Metagenome Assembly Pipeline (available on Github) which analyzes ocean water DNA samples to develop “ecological fingerprints” of the planktonic species present and their relative abundance. We focus on plankton first as plankton accounts for approximately 90% of marine biomass. While plankton may seem inconsequential, they are the foundation of the global food web. Understanding and forecasting planktonic ecosystem health is mission-critical to developing ways to fully regenerate our oceans.
This initial milestone of launching our Metagenome Assembly Pipeline is just one of many phases on our roadmap, with a sneak peek below:
- Phase 1: Metagenome Assembly Pipeline beta- (completed)
- Phase 2: Expanding datasets / timeseries, adding species-level models
- Phase 3: Integrating models into metagenome model
- Phase 4: Modular living oceans protocol
- Phase 5: Marine biodiversity markets
An invitation to join our open platform 📨
We know building marine biodiversity metrics and related blue carbon and bio-credit markets is a massive, complex undertaking. We know we cannot do this alone. That is why our approach is to build an open, transparent platform that rewards high quality data and ecological algorithm contributions to the overall biodiversity meta-model. See our Blue Paper for more details.
We invite the global ocean community to come build with us, to help drive the Blue Economy, and to share in the wealth these Marine Protected Areas create.