A new report from FAIRR, an investor network focused on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues in protein supply chains and the global food system, cautions investors to be wary of fed aquaculture, but recommends greater investment in shellfish farming.

FAIRR’s member network, who are responsible for managing USD 12.6 trillion (EUR 11.1 trillion) of assets and investments, includes such influential players as Aviva, DNB Asset Management and the Norwegian pension group KLP.

The report, “Shallow returns? ESG risks and opportunities in aquaculture,” identifies 10 ESG challenges that could hamper future growth of the USD 230 billion (EUR 201.9 billion) global aquaculture industry, while pointing out that it has averaged annual growth of almost 6 percent since 2000.

Innovations are also highlighted, along with investment opportunities in fish health, alternative feeds, repurposing waste as feed, and cultured seafood or plant-based replications of fish products.

Short-term risks are identified as disease, transparency and food fraud, effluents and antibiotic use. For example, the World Bank estimated in 2014 that disease costs the sector more than USD 6 billion (EUR 5.3 billion) per year in terms of mortalities, loss of stock, and prevention or treatments. In Chile, an outbreak of infectious anaemia (ISA) cost USD 2 billion (EUR 1.8 billion) and 20,000 jobs, and resulted in companies having to renegotiate loans with their banks. In Norway, it is estimated that salmon farms lose around 9 percent of revenues each harvest to costs associated with sea lice.  Read the article.

Editor’s Note:  The report focuses on marine aquaculture (sea-cage farming), whereas land-based aquaculture practiced by AquaBounty is not affected by the specific challenges mentioned, and in many cases is a solution.

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