On one of my many trips down the Internet recently I discovered a nexus between two interests of mine: sustainable seafood and investing. All these new and innovative aquaculture ventures that are popping up need funding and Aqua-Spark, a Private Equity investment fund based in The Netherlands is doing just that. Here’s a snippet from their website.
Aqua-Spark is an investment fund with a focus on sustainable aquaculture businesses around the world. The small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) we invest in are working toward the production of safe, accessible aquatic life, such as fish, shellfish and plants, in ways that do not harm our oceans. Our investors value the fact that each investment aims to create triple impact—specifically, each investment is chosen for its potential to generate significant financial returns while also activating positive environmental and social outcomes
Aqua-Spark’s strategy is to provide initial funding to SME’s in the field of sustainable aquaculture ranging from 250,000 to 5 million Euro. They prefer to remain minority stakeholders in these companies and invest mostly in those that are already in business and ready to expand, or have a viable proof of concept. Only 10% of their funding goes to riskier, more experimental ventures. The website describes their thorough vetting process, which is done in partnership with WorldFish a non-profit organization dedicated to solving hunger in developing countries.
I like this from both investing and sustainability perspectives: A return on investment (ROI) that also helps grow the best in aquaculture without the financial (and ecological) risks involved with untested technologies.
Upon going deeper into their website I discovered that Aqua-Spark and Buying Seafood.com have a mutual friend: Love The Wild, which I reviewed a while back, was in their portfolio. I’m sure some of you remember how pleasantly surprised I was with their products. Another company that caught my eye is a fish farm called Sogn Aqua, which farm-raises Atlantic halibut in a very innovative way. I’ll be taking a closer look at this company soon. Their current portfolio contain two companies: Proteon, which is finding safe alternatives to antibiotics in both fish and poultry, and Cryoocyte, which is dedicated to improving control and accuracy in the breeding of fish.
If Aqua-Spark continues to fund companies like these, they may completely reverse the general public’s view on aquaculture. The image of dirty ponds crammed with tilapia or swai can be a thing of the past. The sea pens overstocked with salmon riddled with sea lice and pumped full of antibiotics may one day be replaced with less intensely farmed fish that don’t threaten wild fish or the fishermen who rely on them.
Now, I must admit that I don’t believe the oceans will be depleted soon, as in their promo video. However my opinion is changing on the role aquaculture needs to play. Aqua-Spark and the companies they invest in, gives me hope that responsible, sustainable aquaculture can co-exist and supplement what we harvest from the oceans.