San Francisco (AFP) - An investment fund aimed at prospering while preventing overfishing from wiping out ocean life announced on Thursday it is pumping $4 million into two companies focused on smart farming of seafood.
Aqua-Spark said that US-based biotechnology Calysta and Chicoa Fish Farm in Mozambique, Africa, will be the fund's first investments since launching in late 2013.
"We've spent the last many months examining technologies, businesses and farms around the world that have the potential to shift the aquaculture landscape,” Aqua-Spark co-founders Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz said in a release.
"Calysta and Chicoa have stood out as game-changing business ventures."
They touted Calysta for having a transformative way of using methane-eating microbes to make protein feed for fish and hailed Chicoa as a fish-farm operation that could serve as a model across the African continent.
Aqua-Spark valued the overall investment at $4 million but did not disclose how the money was divvied.
"We understand that to truly lead and change our industry, we must develop every link – from fish to consumer," Chicoa co-founders Damien Legros, Gerry McCollum, and Erik Rotsaert said in a release.
"This is only the beginning of our journey, and we're thrilled to see how we can change the face of aquaculture while making an impact on local economies."
Aqua-Spark has raised $10 million since its launch, and has set a goal of growing to be a $400 million fund by 2025.
The fund is based on a belief that investors can make money while promoting healthy oceans and feeding the world by backing promising technologies and business models devoted to sustainable fish farming.
Aqua-Spark cited scientific predictions that oceans could be rendered lifeless if rampant exploitation of sea life isn't prevented. Meanwhile, the global populations appetite for fish is project to double in coming decades.
"Aqua-Spark's mission is to sustainably grow the fish farming industry, and its investment in Calysta - a single cell protein alternative for fish feed - marks an exciting turning point," said Aaron McNevin of the World Wildlife Fund.
"It means the potential to feed billions, and protect dwindling ocean species, while using smarter and fewer resources."