Dealflow | February 2, 2015

Aqua-Spark Invests $4 Million in Two Fish Farming Ventures

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Dutch sustainable aquaculture fund Aqua-Spark invested $4 million in two ventures aiming to transform the fish farming industry.

6d654867-2b2d-4e56-af11-cf368cadd9c3The fund invested in Calysta, a California biotech company that produces a fishmeal substitute made from naturally-occurring microbes that are grown through fermentation.

The fund’s second investment is in Chicoa Fish Farm, a Mozambique-based fish farming operation that Aqua-Spark believes could be a model for Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Getting aquaculture right means alleviating pressure on our stressed oceans while also providing people around the world with a healthy food source,” said Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz, co-founders of Aqua-Spark. “Both Calysta and Chicoa have stood out as game-changing business ventures.”

The Aqua-Spark investments are part of growing investor interest in sustainability in the $390 billion seafood market.

Since launching the open-end fund in late 2013, Velings and Novogratz have raised $10 million with the goal of raising and investing $400 million by 2025.

With global demand for fish set to double in the coming decades and 85 percent of wild-caught fish stocks either exploited or depleted, fish farming is exploding.

“Aquaculture is the future of seafood, but to meet current and future demands, we must address its Achilles Heel: an ironic reliance on wild-caught fish for fishmeal,” said Dr. Aaron McNevin of the World Wildlife Fund.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, where only 1 percent of consumed fish is from fish farms, 1.6 million additional tons of farmed fish will be needed in 2015 (and 2.6 million additional tons by 2030) just to keep up with current consumption.

“We must develop every link – from fish to consumer,” Chicoa Fish Farm co-founders Damien Legros, Gerry McCollum, and Erik Rotsaert said in a statement.