Why We are Building in Iceland

While the heart of Running Tide will always beat from Casco Bay, we are stoked to be building our first global research and development base in Iceland.

I’m from a multi-generation commercial fishing family, and decided to found Running Tide after experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change on our fisheries and local environment. With a warming and increasingly acidic ocean, fish that sustained my family, friends, and neighbors (and fed so much of America and the world) were moving north and to deeper waters. I had a dream of a jigging boat, catching mackerel and groundfish and selling perfect filets. But the mackerel swam north and hasn’t come back. And as went my dream, so go others in coastal communities. We are losing our way of life, our livelihoods, and our sense of community and continuity.

Years ago, when my family’s own fishery business was struggling, we realized we had to look outside our local community to find new best practices to meet the changing demands of the market. And for us, Iceland was that place. Iceland, too, had built its economy on the foundation of fisheries — and Icelanders shared both our passion for the ocean and alarm about the impacts of warming and acidification. I had the opportunity to visit the country with my Dad and witness firsthand their world leadership in fishery innovation, resilience, and management of natural resources. The government and industry work towards profit and ocean health as one goal. They consider their workers in every minute detail of their operations. They adopt new technologies and recapitalize frequently. They embrace automation, data rich management, and operate in sophisticated and dynamic balance with their fisheries stocks, shifting focus through the seasons and through the ups and downs of natural resource management.

What we learned in Iceland helped us reimagine our family business back home. We adopted and adapted some of the more accessible and high leverage innovations — and I took their lessons to start a new company that I hoped could revitalize not only my own coastal community, but help heal the ocean for everyone. 

As I built Running Tide, I always had Iceland in my mind's eye. In more recent years, I’ve returned to Iceland to work towards our shared mission, utilizing the country’s many unique and extraordinary strengths to promote ocean health, which include:  

  • Strategic Location: Iceland’s position in the North Atlantic is well suited for the deployment of our carbon removal system and verification instruments, reducing the sailing time and fuel burn required to deploy. 
  • Sustainability: Iceland is the only country in the world with nearly 100% green and sustainable energy production, which is vital for any carbon removal process. We account for all emissions that we emit during our work, and the greener our supply chain, the better.
  • Maritime Expertise: Iceland’s entire maritime sector — research, development, engineering, and operations — is unparalleled in its expertise and capabilities. Operating on the ocean is hard, so working with people with the experience and grit to do so effectively is invaluable.
  • Industrial Excellence: It is my opinion that industry in Iceland operates at the highest level in the world. Data rich, insanely productive, highly automated, and respectful of people. There is no better place to build an industrial operation that we hope to roll out around the world. We build here,  to the highest standards in the world, and we have something worthy of scale for all coastal communities, with appropriate local adaptations.
  • Governance: Iceland’s government has an ambitious climate target (Net Zero before 2040) and a publicly stated goal of supporting and growing green industry, as well as a dedicated interest in attracting carbon removal companies, which we’ve seen for ourselves in our interactions across government, ministries, and agencies. Iceland has proven themselves to be responsible actors in managing their marine environment that many countries should learn from.
  • Partnerships: Iceland is home to myriad trailblazing technologists, expert industrial operators, determined mayors, and pioneer startups who share in our mission to restore ocean health, and who we are honored to call partners. Our partnership with Transition Labs, who work with leading climate companies from around the world and help them deploy their solutions in Iceland, has been especially successful.
  • Climate Sector: Iceland is poised to become a hotbed for the development and deployment of innovative climate technologies, as evidenced by the growing number of leading players already established and operating throughout the country.

During our first year in Iceland, we’ve been met with open arms by coastal communities, partners across various industries, new Icelandic team members, the scientific community, and policymakers. These experiences have strengthened our belief that Iceland’s vision to scale humanity’s most needed climate solutions is not only possible, but already underway. 

We believe that if we use the best of foundational science, first principles engineering, and the type of talent and determination that is found in Iceland and coastal communities everywhere, we can restore ocean health, and ensure an abundant future for all life on Earth.

As a global community, we have many steps (and a few giant leaps) to go. And thanks to our work in Iceland, we’re on our way. 

-Marty Odlin

Founder & CEO

Why We are Building in Iceland
Marty Odlin
# minute read
View all posts