Recently the San Francisco Chronicle has run a series of dispatches from the world of sustainable seafood, including a profile of CleanFish, the company that’s hoping to become the pescetarian’s Niman Ranch. But the more surprising story is about a new venture capital fund that invests in sustainable seafood companies.
Founded with a major grant from the Packard Foundation, Sea Change invests primarily in processors and distributors, the middle of the supply chain. It’s a smart move. As the fund’s managing principal says, “Even if people create greater supplies of environmentally preferable fish and even if there is more demand for it from consumers, the seafood supply chain doesn’t always cooperate.”
Sea Change is still a small fund, but it has invested in a few promising companies, including Advanced BioNutrition, “a Maryland biotech firm developing protein-rich algae that can replace fish oil as a food source for farm-raised fish.” These may or may not be good investments—the returns aren’t known yet—but they are critical steps for the ecofish industry: As an Environmental Defense Fund vice president who serves on a conservation advisory committee to Sea Change says, “[T]he transition to sustainable methods requires capital.”