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Sustainable Sea Cucumber Farming Operation Receives $2.75 million Investment

Lucy Towers
05 January 2017, at 12:00am

MADAGASCAR - Aqua-Spark, the first investment fund focused exclusively on sustainable aquaculture, has announced a new investment into a sea cucumber farming operation, Indian Ocean Trepang.

The Madagascar-based company is the exclusive global licensee for an innovative patent on in-vitro fertilization of the Holothuria scabra sea cucumber species.

Sea cucumbers are in high demand in Asian markets, where they’re considered a delicacy. They are also deposit-feeders that clean the environment without requiring feed, and can even be used in land-based marine farms to mitigate effluent.

For Aqua-Spark, which has invested in select land-based fish farms like Sogn Aqua and Matorka,this application and potential to scale is of particular interest.

Native to Madagascar, the Holothuria scabra sea cucumber species has fallen victim to overfishing and has been listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation and is on its Red List.

Indian Ocean Trepang’s breeding program is growing, and Aqua-Spark’s investment of $2.75 million will be put towards a new site –positioning the company to become the world’s leader in growing sea cucumbers.

The plan is for multiple locations and countries, which could create hundreds of jobs and help alleviate poverty in remote communities. The company currently has 168 employees, with community projects in place that impact approximately 180 families.

An investment in Indian Ocean Trepang is an investment in the future of sustainable fish farming and the survival of this species, explains Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz, co-founders of Aqua-Spark.

They are at once helping to revive an endangered marine animal and providing a sustainable filtering method for fish farms, while also creating jobs in key markets.

"We’re thrilled to working with such an impactful company, and connect them with our network of farms and technologies.We are thrilled to partner with Aqua-Spark, with whom -- from the first moment we started an exchange -- we found a team of experts and professionals who have a long-term view and understanding of aquaculture," explains Thibault Giulioli, CEO of Indian Ocean Trepang.

"With support from Aqua-Spark, we look forward to implementing our vision and rolling out our business model throughout the Indian Ocean."