There’s a certain appeal to fish farming, also known as aquaculture. Growing aquatic life in offshore pens, rivers, or big, terrestrial tanks seems not only audacious, but as convenient as, well, shooting fish in a barrel. Already, aquaculture accounts for nearly 50 percent of the worldwide fish supply, and it’s growing faster than any other type of food production. Farm-raised seafood will soon jump to 62 percent of global fish served on a plate or bought in a supermarket by 2030, a 500 percent growth rate over 20 years, according to the USDA. At a time when 85 percent of marine life is overexploited and overfished, aquaculture seems like a viable alternative.
But in the past, environmentalists have been wary to embrace the industry. Farms generally rely on less than desirable practices to grow their fish. Many use heavy amounts of antibiotics, which can pollute surface waters and spur the growth of antibiotic-resistant microbes. Invasive species of fish that escape netted pens bring disease and decimation to native populations. Perhaps strangest of all, fishmeal used on farms is almost always ground, wild-caught fish. Of total fish caught by fisheries worldwide, 37 percent goes toward making fishmeal.
Aqua-Spark, an investment fund focused on sustainable aquaculture, is out to change these practices and chart an environmentally sound future. Co-founded in 2013 by Amy Novogratz, former director of the TED Prize, and successful entrepreneur Mike Velings, the fund spent two years raising $10 million. Last month, they announced their first two investments, with a goal to grow over $400 million by 2024. They’ve put a finger on the pulse of an industry that’s not only projected to expand rapidly, but with room to develop sustainably, as well.
GOOD caught up with Amy Novogratz last Friday.