Investing in Aquaculture Ventures to Reduce Environmental Risk, Boost Output, Feed a Protein-Hungry World and Preserve Our Oceans

Impact Fund Invests in aquaculture ventures with the aim of reducing environmental risks, boosting output to feed a protein-hungry world and preserving our oceans.

by | SOCAP

Within a few years, most of the fish we eat will be farmed, not caught.

That could be a boon for already over-stressed oceans. But the worldwide explosion of aquaculture since 1970 has left its own trail of environmental destruction, from toxic concentrations of waste, to outbreaks of disease, to the continued over-harvesting of smaller ocean fish for feeding their penned brethren.

A wave of aquaculture startups are trying to tackle those challenges with better technology and management. Aquaponic, or closed-loop, systems use fish waste to fertilize vegetables. Alternative sources of proteins, from insects to microbes, can substitute for fish meal. Farms are beginning to grow fish safely with fewer chemicals and antibiotics.

Aqua-Spark, a new fund launching this week, is likewise taking a different approach to financing such aquaculture ventures, with the aim of reducing environmental risks and boosting output to feed a protein-hungry world. Aquaculture now produces about 60 million tons of seafood, or 41 percent of global supply. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that at current rates of consumption, an additional 23 million tons of seafood will be needed by 2030.

“The only way to go up is farming,” says Mike Velings, the Dutch founder and managing director of Aqua-Spark. ”If we don’t do it in a good way, the pressure on the oceans will only get bigger and bigger.”

Aqua-Spark, based in Utrecht, Netherlands, grew out of A-Spark Good Ventures, a broader investment company Velings founded after after building a successful human resources outsourcing firm. Also managing the new fund is his wife, Amy Novogratz, former director of the TED Prize, which is awarded at the well-known innovation conference. Socially responsible investing runs in Novogratz’s family; her sister is Jacqueline Novogratz, the head of Acumen, an early impact investment fund.

They are seeking to build a network of small- and medium-sized companies that meet sustainability criteria and can share technology, feed and distribution. Aqua-Spark is looking to make up to 10 investments per year of between 250,000 and 5 million euros ($336,000 to $6.7 million), in both developed and developing countries.

“The big issue is coordinating the efforts of all the organizations to orchestrate this rapid growth,” Novogratz says. “Right now, that’s not happening.”

[Read more via Impact Fund Invests in Aquaculture to Preserve Oceans | SOCAP…]

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