• Year of the Oceans: No Time Like the Present to Reverse the Degradation of the Seas

    • Jessica Pothering
    • February 22, 2017

    Suddenly, oceans are everywhere.

    The run-up to the big United Nations Ocean Conference in June began with last week’s preparatory conference and the first voluntary commitments to meeting Sustainable Development Goal No. 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources. The drumbeat continues this week with the World Ocean Summit in Bali, where investors are assessing the scale of the ocean opportunity.

  • Getting Investors Excited About Sustainable Seafood

    Walton Family Foundation 

    Getting Investors Excited About Sustainable Seafood 
    November 9, 2016

    Anyone who’s spent time in the sustainable seafood sector will tell you it’s a growing industry, full of creativity and innovation – one ripe for investments that will pay out in stronger economies and healthier oceans.

    People who work with responsibly caught fish, whether on the water, on the docks, at processors or in kitchens, know that sustainable seafood makes sense not only from an environmental and a community perspective, but also from a business standpoint. It’s the future of the seafood industry. So why aren’t the investments pouring in? For many investors, the opportunities are still unclear. The sector seems very opaque relative to other food sectors.

    The seafood sector is different than other food industries. If investors want to put their money into a poultry venture, they know the four or five industry leaders they should talk to, and how to access the information about the sector they need to make a good investment decision. If they want to invest in sustainable seafood, they face a fragmented global supply chain made up of hundreds of thousands of producers (mostly small, private businesses) and a series of similarly dispersed processors and distributors. Most investors have little idea how to find and talk to the people who can help focus the picture for them.

    For full article click here

  • Impact Investing for Ocean Ecosystems and Users

    Marine Ecosystems and Management (MEAM) 

    Impact investing for ocean ecosystems and users: Capital available, but projects needed!
    October 3, 2016

    For decades, the idea of ‘socially responsible investing’ meant little more than not including companies considered to have a negative social or environmental impact in an investment portfolio. Increasingly, investors are seeking to fund ventures or initiatives that actively achieve positive (and measurable) social or environmental results – while still generating financial returns. These “impact investments” can be made in both emerging and developed markets. And they can tolerate a range of returns, from below-market to above-market rates.

    For full article click here

  • Economies of Scale: Smart Ideas to Fight Fish Fraud

    When you buy fish from the grocery store, it's not always clear exactly what you're getting. The industry is fragmented and murky, plagued by seafood fraud—when fishermen or processors take cheaper, lower quality fish and disguise or mislabel it to try and make more money. Don't count on regulators to catch this deception. In 2009, the Government Accountability Office took a hard look at the three agencies responsible for detecting seafood fraud, and concluded they were failing to "effectively collaborate with each other"—putting consumers' wallets and health at risk.

    Monica Jain, the founder and executive director of Manta Consulting Inc.—and also our guest on this week's episode of Bite—believes innovative businesses may hold the key to solving some of the industry's woes. Drawing on a background in marine biology and decades of experience in environmental consulting, in 2013 Jain founded the Fish 2.0 conference, which pairs smart seafood start-ups with investors looking to make an impact.

    For full article click here 

  • Fish 2.0 Network Scales Sustainable Seafood Businesses

    “Fish 2.0 accelerated our business to a fundamentally different level.” “It’s boosted the confidence and pride of board and staff in our business model, in addition to validating our model with current and potential funders.” “Winning Fish 2.0 was a huge event for our young company.”

    Barely six months past the 2015 Fish 2.0 Finals, participants in the business competition—designed to grow the sustainable seafood sector—are showing significant momentum. The comments above illustrate the progress we’re seeing: improved business models, new products and partnerships, and investor interest, including actual investments. This quick progress proves that the Fish 2.0 network is accelerating growth and innovation.

    The entrepreneurs tell their stories best, so I’ll share a few here.

    For full article click here 

  • State of Green Business: The business of oceans catches a wave

    Seventy percent of the earth’s surface is made of oceans, yet only 5 percent of this vast expanse has been explored — and far less than that protected. Businesses are waking up to untapped economic opportunities within these watery regions, which absorb 30 percent of the planet’s carbon emissions.

    But as warming, acidification, chemical pollution, waste flows, overfishing and rising sea levels imperil marine systems, species and habitats, industrializing the oceans further brings new risks. The recognition of oceans’ economic potential is crashing up against the movement to place an economic value on its natural capital.

    The emerging "blue economy" movement applies sustainability to the vast marine environment, which encompasses shipping; transportation; tourism; recreation; and the harvesting of fish, seafood, oil, gas, minerals, energy and even water itself.

    For full article click here 

  • Monica Jain. The Carmel Valley resident and Fish 2.0 founder riffs on sustainable seafood, and the industry’s future.

    It wasn’t until Monica Jain was in her 20s that she fell in love with the sea, but it’s not her fault. A St. Louis, Missouri native, Jain studied biology at Stanford, thinking she would go to medical school. As a senior in need of extra credits, she took a scuba diving class, and made her first-ever dive in Monterey Bay near Lovers Point. “I was like, ‘Stop the press! There’s a whole world under here and no one told me!’” she says. “I was so upset.”

    Jain quickly changed focus, and spent a year studying marine biology in Pacific Grove at Hopkins Marine Station, which is affiliated with Stanford. She bounced around a bit after that, working marine biology jobs in Australia and Florida, and then came to a decision: She wasn’t going to pursue a PhD in marine biology after all, but instead go to business school.

    “When you come from an Indian family, there is no choice but to go to graduate school,” she says. “I had to pick a graduate school, so I was like, business school then!”

    For full article click here 

  • Integrated Capital Funds Can Finance Environmental Markets

    As conservation finance gains more traction among mainstream investors, discussions about how to evolve early-stage environmental marketplaces to provide more conventional investment opportunities have taken over the halls of conferences. Integrated capital funds may offer one solution.

    Panels and Q&A sessions at the industry’s leading conferences, such as Fish 2.0, have convened to talk about how to speed up the evolution of nascent markets to give rise to more deal opportunities for mainstream investors.

    Panels and Q&A sessions at the industry’s leading conferences, such as Fish 2.0, have convened to talk about how to speed up the evolution of nascent markets to give rise to more deal opportunities for mainstream investors.

    For full article click here 

  • The State of Green Business, 2016

    The good news is that there's some good news. And that bad news is getting, well, less bad.

    That’s one way to read this year's State of Green Business.

    Our ninth annual report (download PDF), published today and produced in partnership with Trucost, continues our tradition of taking the pulse of corporate progress in sustainability, in the United States and around the world. It looks at both common measures (energy, waste and carbon) and some less-common ones (corporate reporting of natural capital profit or savings, for example, or companies’ low-carbon investments) over the past five years.

    For full article click here 

  • Entrepreneurs Worldwide Are Taking on Seafood Sustainability

    • SOCAP.
    • Monica Jain.
    • September 29, 2015.


    At SOCAP13, with support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, we focused almost 20% of our programming on investing in oceans, to raise awareness among the SOCAP community of the many ways that investors and entrepreneurs can improve ocean health through market-based solutions. Monica Jain is a leader within sustainable seafood who has continued building the marketplace for sustainable ocean solitons, at SOCAP and through the Fish 2.0 business competition.


    It’s no secret that our oceans and the people who depend on them are in trouble. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, about 70 percent of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited, overexploited or suffering a collapse under the pressure of a $390 billion global seafood market. Yet analysts expect seafood demand to double by 2050, while island and coastal communities around the world remain dependent on seafood for both sustenance and economic health.

    This situation demands business and technology innovation throughout seafood supply chains to improve use of the resources we still have and to sustainably produce seafood to meet growing demand. Simply improving one element of the supply chain in isolation will not get us to healthier oceans. Without businesses throughout the supply chain that fully value and differentiate sustainable seafood from pirated, illegal, or wastefully processed products, consumers cannot identify sustainable products. And without the ability to identify sustainable products, consumers can’t create market incentives for fish farmers or fishers to change their production or capture practices.

    [Click here for the full article]

  • Investors Target Growing Demand for Healthy, Sustainable, Tasty Fish


    ImpactAlpha.com-The hook is baited, and private-equity and venture-capital fund managers are reeling in capital to finance next-generation fish-farming enterprises across the country and around the world.

    Several dedicated funds are targeting aquaculture investments specifically. At the same time, many broader venture capital and private-equity funds, focused on food and agriculture and even technology, are adding investments in wild-caught seafood suppliers, processors and consumer brands, as well as aquaculture, to diversify their portfolios.

    [Click here for the full article]

  • Your share of the ocean: blue business opportunities


    Do you value the ocean? Many would say they love it, relating memories of a deserved vacation, carefree summer times, or the taste of their favorite fish. But exactly how much do you value it?

    While it may be difficult to value the ‘intangibles’ – like your ocean memories or the fact that half the oxygen we breathe comes from the ocean – a recent WWF study estimates that the ocean is valued at a minimum of $US 24 trillion. From food and tourism, to coastal protection and carbon absorption, the ocean is an economic powerhouse. If the ocean were a country, it would be ranked 7th in the world, based on annual gross marine product (the equivalent of a country’s GDP.)

    [Click here for the full article]

  • Silicon Valley’s Clean Tech Investors Eyeing Sustainable Food, Experts Say


    MONTEREY, California -- Food is becoming the epicenter of the growing responsible investment movement in the San Francisco Bay area's Silicon Valley, panelists said during the impact investing discussion at Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sustainable Food Institute last week.

    “The health issues and sustainability issues of the world are becoming clarified and made personal through food,” William Rosenzweig, dean and executive director of the Food Business School, and co-founder and managing partner at Physic Ventures, told conference-goers during the panel discussion entitled “New models for funding sustainable food systems.”

    In the Silicon Valley, renowned for the explosion of technology investments throughout the last few decades, food is increasingly becoming a focal point for investors, according to panelists.

    [Click here for the full article]

  • Surge in Fish 2.0 Applications is Good News for Oceans, Communities and Investors


    When I started Fish 2.0, many investors, foundations, and even seafood experts said it would be difficult to get more than 50 entries in a competition for sustainable seafood businesses. They were not seeing many innovative seafood businesses, and they believed most of those they did see were not looking for investment. The inaugural competition in 2013 showed that assessment was off the mark: it drew 83 entries. This year’s application period, which closed April 27, shows that innovation in the seafood sector is positively surging: we received 170 entries, more than double the number in the previous field.

    That is fantastic news for our oceans and the people who depend on them. About 70 percent of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited, overexploited or have already suffered a collapse under the pressure of a $390 billion global seafood market. Yet analysts expect seafood demand to double by 2050, and island and coastal communities around the world depend on seafood for both sustenance and economic health. The situation demands sustainably managed fisheries and environmentally responsible aquaculture.

    This year’s Fish 2.0 applications—from about 100 start-ups and 70 ventures that are already successfully selling and scaling—illustrate the diversity of innovation happening in the sector. Some of these businesses are shortening supply chains for value-added sustainable seafood products in the Pacific Islands, Alaska, Japan and Thailand. Some are using advanced aquaculture techniques to reduce energy costs, wastes and loss from disease, or are developing new fish feeds. Others are improving seafood storage systems to reduce logistics costs, improve quality and open new markets; bringing convenient sustainable seafood products to consumers; developing software to make fishing and fish farming businesses more efficient and systems that make supply chains traceable; or providing healthy foods and income to communities that have few other options.

    [Click here for the full article]

  • With a Key Food Source at Risk, Big Funders Back a Different Kind of Fishing Contest


    Fish is one of the healthiest foods, high in protein, vitamin D, and if it’s a cold deep water fish, like Pacific Salmon, the same compounds that keep fish blood circulating, Omega 3 fatty acids, can keep our own blood flowing too, lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, increasing world demand has led to 40 percent of the world’s fisheries being overfished resulting in more than $50 billion of global economic losses per year. Worse, the trend poses a profound threat to human food sources.

    Many funders are on this case, including some of the biggest U.S. foundations. And more keep joining the battle. Last year, for example, Bloomberg Philanthropies jumped into this field with a $53 million initiative. Saving fisheries is hot, and we've been covering the ins and outs of how funders are trying to tackle this challenge in creative new ways.

    One initiative that caught our eye is a unique investor/foundation sponsored business competition called Fish 2.0 that seeks to grow the sustainable seafood business. Several heavy-weight funders have lined behind this effort, including the Packard Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation.

    Together with investors, they’ve put together a pot of money that will be awarded to the top innovative businesses among 36 finalists after they make their pitch to investors at Stanford University in October. Finalists’ travel expenses will be met as well. At Stanford, participants will be given feedback from investors and technical experts and networking opportunities. Six winners will win $150,000 each. Another six will win $30,000 each. Various other awards will also be given out.

    The competition is open to businesses worldwide ranging from startups to established entities that seek to grow. This is the second Fish 2.0 competition. Most of the 21 finalists from the 2013 Fish 2.0 competition showed significant business increases after their participation. How innovative did the winner have to be? The company that came out on top was Blue Sea Labs, a San Francisco based company which is now providing an e-commerce portal to connect consumers directly to 22 small boat fishermen who offer sustainable, wild-harvested seafood.

    If you’re interested in applying, keep in mind that the investors have definite areas of the seafood business in which they are participating and that most are looking to augment their existing portfolios. It’s best to look at the Fish 2.0 sponsors and their areas of focus, targeting your pitch to meet their specific needs. Here are two, one a for-profit the other a non-profit with strikingly different agendas:

    [Click here for the full article]

  • The 2015 Fish 2.0 Competition: A Chance for Seafood Businesses to Build on Investor Interest

    Three years ago, when I first started asking investors why they didn’t put more money into seafood ventures, many told me that there just weren’t enough strong businesses out there to warrant the time and energy of adding seafood to their portfolios. At the same time, seafood businesses complained that there were not enough interested investors out there. They said that without investment, new ventures were not worth building and existing ventures could not continue to grow.

    These comments led to the genesis of Fish 2.0, a business competition that connects seafood businesses and interested investors. More than half of the 21 business finalists from the 2013 competition report significant business growth as a result of participating.

    Now, just 15 months later, when I talk with investors about the 2015 competition, I hear a different story.

    Instead of having to convince investors that they will see quality investments that fit in their food systems, technology, or supply chain logistics portfolios, we simply invite them to participate. They are enthusiastic about joining us. They know that the Fish 2.0 process pools top, interesting businesses in the sector, businesses that are worth taking the time to review seriously. As a result, the 2015 competition has the support of a broad range of investor, foundation and corporate sponsors.

    This breadth reflects the diversity of investors who are now paying attention to the growth potential of the seafood sector. Their interest also means we can have a bigger competition this year.

    The 2015 competition is open to businesses from around the world. We now offer tracks for businesses ranging from pre-revenue start-ups to established growth companies that are scaling. A total of 36 finalists will attend the competition finals at Stanford University to formally pitch their ideas and network with investors.

    As a statement of their interest in the sector, sponsors have placed $180,000 in awards on the table for the top businesses, and will cover travel costs for finalists to attend the event.

    We are also excited about the diversity of interests coming together for the 2015 competition because each of our sponsors brings specific interests and expertise to the events. Each looks for strong businesses that fit into their existing portfolios or that accelerate business growth around specific issue areas.

    • For example, Humanity United, through its Freedom Fund, aims to eliminate human rights violations across the globe and is concerned about of the use of slave labor in the seafood industry, Through Fish 2.0, Humanity United wants to foster new business innovations that will create profits and improve social practices throughout Thai farmed shrimp and shrimp feed supply chains.
    • Aqua-Spark invests in sustainable profitable aquaculture businesses including companies that improve aquaculture feeds or create other novel aquaculture technologies. Fish 2.0 fits as part of their larger effort to build a portfolio of aquaculture investments that will help feed the world and generate returns....[Click here for the full article]
  • Wide Range of Investors Join in Launch of New Fish 2.0 Business Competition

    CARMEL, CA.  January 13, 2015

    CARMEL, CA – More than 15 corporate industry leaders, investors, and philanthropists, including Pentair, CEI, Google Oceans, and RSF Social Finance, joined together to launch the new Fish 2.0 business competition this week.  Fish 2.0 connects investors with business leaders in fisheries, aquaculture, and seafood supply chains. It offers seafood businesses an opportunity to gain visibility, find strategic partners, and ultimately garner new investments in the range of $100,000 to over $10 million. The breadth of sponsors involved in this year’s competition reflects a growing interest in the seafood sector among investors with expertise in technology, supply chain operations, and food sectors systems. Both established companies and early stage enterprises can apply through the Fish 2.0 website (http://www.fish20.org). 

    “Investors see rising demand for sustainable seafood products and an industry that is ripe for innovation,” says Monica Jain, Fish 2.0 Founder.  “Many in the seafood sector see these opportunities too. They have plans to grow their businesses and reach new markets—but they struggle to identify the right investors. Fish 2.0 connects these groups.”

    Investors come to Fish 2.0 with a variety of interests, ranging from supply chain logistics to community development. Fish 2.0 offers them a chance to learn more about the seafood sector and meet emerging leaders in the industry.

    “We have a 35-year history of investing in fisheries and aquaculture, and we've seen both financial and impact performance from these deals,” explains Dick Clime of CEI, a community investment institution in Maine and a sponsor of Fish 2.0. “Fish 2.0 helps us see a large number of new, quality businesses in one place.” 

    “We believe sustainable aquaculture will play a big role in the future of food production globally,” adds Todd Gleason, Senior Vice President of Growth for Pentair, a global company with $7.0 billion in revenue that is also a sponsor through its Foundation. “We’re excited to support the growth of innovation in the sector.” 

    During the 2013 competition, 160 businesses applied and 21 finalists presented to a room of over 100 investors.  Many of these companies report great growth in the past year.

    “Fish 2.0 is the best thing I’ve ever done in the context of my business,” says Dane Chauvel of Organic Ocean. “We exceeded revenue projections by 10 percent last year and are on track to realize a 30 percent year-over-year increase in revenue this year. This wouldn't have happened in the absence of Fish 2.0 – it accelerated our path and provided a networking opportunity that we never would have gained otherwise.” 

    In this year’s competition, businesses from around the world will compete for over $180,000 in cash prizes, and 36 finalists will present their ideas to investors during the competition finals at Stanford University. 

    The 2015 competition will include tracks for pre- and post-revenue, early stage ventures, as well as a track for established growth companies that have been generating revenue for more than three years and are scaling. Fish 2.0 organizers urge business leaders to enter the competition via the website www.fish20.org. They also invite investors to sign-up as competition advisors and judges to get a first-hand view of activity in the sector.

    As Jain explains, “In 2013, we were simply showing people that there were great business opportunities in sustainable seafood, now we’re showing people the breadth and depth of the sector  – we’re excited for more businesses and investors to join us in 2015.” 


    Media Contact: Ashley Simons +1.415.412.7957