Nobody ever mentions Australia when people talk about seafood industry powerhouses and innovations, observes Monica Jain, the founder of Fish 2.0, an every two-year competition that connects seafood innovators with investors. But after doing some research recently, she wonders why.
The island continent produced more than AUD 3.0 billion ($2.2bn USD) worth of seafood in 2016, up 21% since 2011, which included a combination of wild catch (AUD 1.75bn worth) and aquaculture (AUD 1.31bn). The country has 25,760 kilometers (more than 16,000 miles) of coastline loaded with such valuable species as sardines, mackerel and farmed salmon and is close to many prime Asian export markets.
Australia's rock lobster alone generates annual sales of A$695 million and has seen its price increase 131% from 2006 until 2016, Jain's group notes in a research paper.
And there are investors looking for opportunities in "the land down under", too. Impact investment products there more than quadrupled from AUD 1.2bn in June 2015 to AUD 5.8bn in December 2017, according to Australia's Impact Investment Group (IIG), an organization that attempts to marry investors with companies that make “deep social and environmental impact”.
“People say Australia is a small player when it comes to seafood, but the US is a small player, too. Who is not a small player besides China?” Jain said. “We’re talking about a small player that has a lot of room for expansion.”
For these reasons and more, Fish 2.0 will kick off its fourth, bi-annual contest with a live workshop event, Oct. 23-24, in Melbourne, Australia, Jain’s group has announced. The program, which is being at least partly sponsored by Australia’s Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and hosted by IIG and the Melbourne Business School, is open to all Australian seafood ventures.
That includes those working on aquaculture production and technologies, supply chain improvements, new products, sustainable packaging and logistics, waste reduction, traceability and transparency, wild capture fisheries, ocean climate resilience, and technologies supporting sustainability or fisher safety.
The deadline to submit an application for the Melbourne gathering is Sept. 23.
Additionally, thanks to some assistance from the U.S. State Department, the event will include a separate track for Pacific Island-based innovators.