Aqua-Spark, which is the first investment fund focused on sustainable aquaculture, is a primary investor in Fisher Piscicultura's latest round of funding, helping the Brazilian firm expand production capacity from 50 to 300 tonnes per month. Fisher, which was profiled on The Fish Site last year, is also in the process of developing an integrated production unit, which places cages, feed mill, processing plant, rendering plant, and infrastructure in a single site.
Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz, co-founders of Aqua-Spark, explain: "Aquaculture is booming in Brazil, and we've been keen to help the Brazilian sector develop sustainably – especially where tilapia is concerned. Tilapia farming has been in practice for thousands of years, and the species is one of the most consumed fish in the world. Because tilapia is so well-known and naturally suited to aquaculture – when farms choose to get it right – it can be truly sustainably produced. As our second investment in tilapia, Fisher impressed us with its commitment to creating the best possible operation for fish and their local community."
Founded in 2011, the Fisher team's expertise spans agribusiness, the Brazilian electricity industry, and water management. Through Fisher's collective knowledge of fish farming and the Brazilian hydroelectric sector, they were the first to farm the Aqua Vermelha reservoir, a man-made pond that's highly suitable for tilapia farming.
Fisher is known for its new cage system with integrated automatic feeders and hyper-efficient grading systems. The cages are built from aluminum, which makes them sturdy and less vulnerable to rough weather conditions and predators. The cages stay buoyant by using recycled PET bottles. The system contributes to significantly decreased labour costs, improved animal welfare, increased growth, and higher than average production parameters.
Alexandre Pulino, a co-founder of Fisher, believes that innovation is key to the development of Brazilian aquaculture: “Brazil has all the requirements needed to become a world leader in aquaculture – water, feed ingredients, proper climate, and a large internal market. To make the best of our local conditions, we need to develop our own technology package as we did for other agroindustries. With the help of Aqua-Spark, we believe that in the near future our cage in combination with integrated producers’ systems can become the leading technology of the Brazilian sector.”
Since 2015, Aqua-Spark’s fund has invested in 17 aquaculture businesses and currently has €95.6 million in assets under management. The goal of the fund is to ultimately make sustainability widespread and profitable enough that it becomes the only way to farm fish.