New resources like jellyfish may be the solution to various global challenges

Utilising resources such as jellyfish can help to combat big environmental challenges. They can also be used to create new products. Still, difficulties arise when moving from idea to implementation, making it important to explore alternative applications of these new resources. This is what some high school students were introduced to in 2020 through serious game simulations in the More GoJelly project.

More GoJelly is a collaboration between SINTEF, House of Knowledge, UiT The Arctic University of Norway and the University of Bergen. The project highlights how communities can benefit from new resources like jellyfish, but also how sustainable exploitation may be challenging.

Jellyfish have neither a heart nor a brain, and they float wherever the ocean currents bring them. Despite this, they have existed on the Earth for more than 500 million years, and are incredibly adaptable. They can appear in large numbers and quickly fill fjords and beaches. This results in bad catches for fishermen and no swimming for us on warm summer days. On the other hand, jellyfish might be considered an unexplored gold mine here in Norway. Jellyfish can be used to produce food, medicine and cosmetics, even though they consist of approximately 95 percent water.

The UN implemented 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) in 2015, which are to be achieved within 2030. Examples of these goals are to end poverty, reduce inequality and combat climate change. The goals serve as a global guide or plan, which can be essential when trying to make good and sustainable choices. This is what the high school students got familiar with through the More GoJelly game sessions. Four SDGs were discussed in light of different scenarios, and microplastics were placed in a global context, with a focus on new resources like jellyfish.

There are many challenges when it comes to managing new resources, both in reality and in the game played by the students. Even though good proposals on how to use a resource are presented, these new actions may in turn cause new challenges, making it so that the best option isn’t necessarily obvious.

Management and decision makers must have the knowledge and understanding of both the causes, measures, and consequences linked to the resources in question. Through projects such as More GoJelly, the need for a knowledge base that can be used in decision-making is emphasized, both for today and in the future. It is also crucial to introduce future generations to causes, measures and consequences from both conflicts and solutions, such as we did in the More GoJelly sessions. This enables us to make informed decisions within resource and environmental management, also in the future.

There are many opportunities with new resources, and we should aim to focus on those that create synergies. A resource should have multiple applications and produce minimal waste – for which jellyfish seem promising. The fishing and cultivation of jellyfish enables their mucus to be used in wastewater treatment plants to collect nano- and microplastics. This also contributes to sustainable food production in a world with increasing hunger. The jellyfish can be used directly for human consumption, but also in cosmetics, health products or as a feed ingredient in aquaculture. Fishing for jellyfish may also relieve some of the pressure on fish larvae in fjords.

Through further research, challenging resources like jellyfish can be made into solutions to issues related to changes in regional resource availability, marine plastic pollution and increasing world hunger. It is also important to increase public awareness about how the plants and animals surrounding us may be solutions to global challenges. It is in other words important to continue the search for sustainable solutions that utilise new resources, but also to remember to include future generations and listen to their inputs, thoughts and opinions. After all, they are the ones who will stand for the decision making in a few years, regarding both jellyfish and other resources we may not have thought of yet!

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