Pacifico Aquaculture, a striped bass farming business, has attracted investment to fund a new fish nursery off the coast of Mexico.
The capital raise is in two parts – project financing from US-headquartered sustainability and ESG investor Equilibrium Capital and via an undisclosed stake acquired by a consortium led by private-equity firm Butterfly Equity in Los Angeles. Pacifico Aquaculture described the stake as “significant”.
Butterfly Equity is a returning investor for the business, having first deployed an unspecified investment to Pacifico Aquaculture in 2017.
Pacifico Aquaculture, set up in 2010, said the cash will “provide a substantial runway to scale its production capacity to meet the robust market demand for sustainably raised striped bass” from its facility in the Mexican state of Baja California.
The company claims to be the “world’s only commercial producer of ocean-raised striped bass, a high-growth, premium species in the $290bn global aquaculture industry”. Pacifico Aquaculture supplies restaurants and retailers across North America.
Per-Roar Gjerde, the CEO of Pacifico Aquaculture, said in a statement: “This investment will allow us to build a state-of-the-art nursery facility and unlock 20,000 metric tons of annual production capacity to meet the world’s growing demand for healthy, nutritious seafood.
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“We are thrilled to partner with Equilibrium and to receive continued support from Butterfly as Pacifico reaches an exciting inflection point in its growth.”
Pacifico Aquaculture’s sustainability credentials include the highest four-star rating – claimed to be a first for a fish farm in Mexico – based on the Best Aquaculture Practises (BAP) certification.
In a partnership with the Mexican government, Pacifico Aquaculture has exclusive rights to farm in the marine sanctuary of Isla Todos Santos, Ensenada, Baja California, part of the Pacific Islands Biosphere Reserve, according to its website.
The reserve operates under Mexico’s National Commission of Natural Protected Areas and covers more than 2.7 million acres.
The fish farmer said striped bass has risen in popularity in the US but has “limited availability due to overfishing, quota constraints and seasonality”.
Butterfly Equity’s joint CEO and co-founder Dustin Beck said: “This is a watershed moment for growing sustainable aquaculture in North America.
“We have witnessed Pacifico’s tremendous growth since our [first] investment, and firmly believe we’re still in the early innings of its growth trajectory.”
Just Food has approached Pacifico Aquaculture for more on its turnover and growth rates and the nature of Butterfly Equity’s investment in 2017.
Equilibrium Capital managing director Nick Houshower described Pacifico Aquaculture as a “trailblazer in sustainable aquaculture”, with the hatchery expected to take the company’s “production capabilities to new heights”.