Stocking the Investment Pipeline in Sustainable Seafood

David Bank. Huffington Post, Nov 22, 2013.  

There’s now a good answer for impact investors who wonder where to look for deals in sustainable seafood and ocean preservation: Fish 2.0. 

Last week’s two-day event to cap the year-long business competition showcased 20 finalists and semi-finalists with a wide range of seafood businesses from distribution and marketing systems to tracking and data technologies to aquaculture production schemes. The ventures varied in both social and environment impact and investment-readiness, but the many investors in attendance seemed to find at least some deals of interest. 

“Awareness about sustainable seafood has increased and continues to rise,” said Mitchell Lench of Treetops Capital, a New York fund that invests in microfinance, green housing and small business development. “It was useful to see so many different types of sustainable seafood companies all in one place.” 

The three winning ventures, which split $75,000 in prize money, typified the breadth of the entries. The winning company, Blue Sea Labs in San Francisco, operates a direct-to-consumer seafood e-commerce site and logistics service that helps fishermen gain higher profits by eliminating middlemen from the distribution chain. “It’s an area ripe for disruption and new technology,” said Martin Reed, Blue Sea’s CEO, who says the company’s logistics system saves 25 percent on shipping but, more importantly, reduces late delivery by 65 percent. 

The runner-up was Cryoocyte, a Cambridge, Mass., startup that is developing a way to freeze fisheggs, a longstanding challenge. By freezing eggs when they are abundant, fish farms could produce at full capacity year-round, improving their own profits and productivity. The technology, if proven, would have a host of other applications as well, such as the creation of a genetic egg bank to preserve endangered species, helping fish farms to recover more quickly from floods and disease outbreaks, and enabling hatcheries to ship eggs further than they can currently send fingerlings.

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The 2013 Competition & News