Georg Baunach – More than half of the fish you eat is farmed: basics, potential and risks of investing in aquaculture

A conversation with Georg Baunach, managing partner and co-founder of Hatch Blue, a knowledge-driven aquaculture and alternative seafood specialist. We discuss what aquaculture is and why it is important; what, where, and how to farm; what are the potential and challenges of regenerative aquaculture, and why is it important to look into it. We end with the risks and challenges of aquaculture, the feed conversion ratio and why it is important, the role of algae, waste, medicines, microplastics, and more.

Hatch Blue has run many accelerators, had over 100 m of AUM, and operates the leading fish farming aquaculture news site globally.


This episode is part of the Regenerative Aquaculture series, supported by The Nest, a family office dedicated to building a more resilient food system through supporting natural solutions and innovative technologies that change the way we produce food.


Georg highlights the scale of fish farming, with over half of fish consumed globally being farmed.

”Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic species like salmon, shrimp, oysters, or seaweed. And mostly, it goes into human food. So, there are a few cases where aquaculture products are not directly used for human food. For example, some seaweeds go into the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical or some chemical industries, but for the most part, it’s really a food production sector. And it is pretty large and estimated to be at 260 billion globally in terms of value—over 120 million tonnes of total production.” – Georg Baunach

”It’s also a much younger industry altogether; it really grew over the last 50 years. So, it managed to grow from really being a niche substitute for wild fisheries to catching wide- produced animals, I would say a true alternative to it, where it surpassed the total production volume of fisheries already.” – Georg Baunach


Georg emphasises the importance of Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) in aquaculture, particularly when replacing fish meal and oil with terrestrial proteins and oils.

”We really requested over a few weeks even more and more information on the FCR because to us it’s such an important indicator of performance and it can range between the species; it can range within the species, between the production systems, or based on husbandry, based on the engineering of the system, and based on the genetics, so I would say this is probably the EFCR, the economic FCR, which also factors in the mortalities that occurred during the production cycle, is definitely the most important indicator within aquaculture.” Georg Baunach

”We’re replacing fish meal and fish oil, and what are we replacing it with? And that really is an issue because we are moving away from marine proteins and oils to terrestrially produced, agriculturally produced proteins and oils, so soy has become a really important part of the diet, either soy meal or soy protein concentrate, which is a huge global commodity going into obviously many other protein production sectors or directly into human consumption, but they go into aquaculture at large volumes.” – Georg Baunach


Georg discusses the potential for seaweed farming as a regenerative aquaculture investment, highlighting benefits for biodiversity and water quality.

So inherently, I think aquaculture is in a good position because we already mentioned that there are some species that don’t require a feed, such as the bivalve, the mussels and oysters, or the seaweeds, and most of them are grown in the open ocean, still in protected areas, but really, these growing systems provide habitat provisioning services to the ecosystem. So really, it’s a kindergarten for the young animals; it’s a protective shelter also for biodiversity.” Georg Baunach

”When you, in the case of seaweed, also open up new applications and new markets, there’s really a reason for people to, in theory, be excited about seaweed as a regenerative agriculture investment. And I’m also interested in some of the other bio species from a regenerative perspective. People, I think, on the agricultural side wouldn’t really include in a definition of regenerative, but it’s almost the other side of the flow: nitrogen and phosphorus in the seaweed and virals; they’re great at cleaning up the waterways, and often they are in esterase, where the rivers go into the ocean. And there, they take out excessive nitrogen as excess phosphorus. And that can be measured by how much they took out. And this is something we include in our definition of regenerative because it has this pollutant removal effect.” Georg Baunach


Fish oil and fish meal usage in aquaculture, their connection to fisheries, and the need to replace them with more sustainable ingredients:

”What goes into the feed is hugely important. And historically, there’s been a lot of usage of fish meal and fish oil, for example. Because fish eat fish, that’s the reality, and they need these high-protein ingredients in there.” Georg Baunach

”It’s wild-harvested, and often it’s in countries where we don’t have a whole lot of understanding of what is happening there. Of course, there are MSC-certified fish meal fisheries in Europe and other parts of the world. But there’s also a large portion of fish meal that comes from sources that we don’t understand. And ideally, I personally would love to see a world in which we don’t rely on any wild resources anymore to farm our food. But I don’t think it is realistic at the moment because the aquaculture animals require certain nutrient profiles, and that’s really hard to replace. As an example, the usage of fish meal in the salmon industry has gone from about 30% of a feed down to 11% and has been gradually replaced by other ingredients.” Georg Baunach


Koen and Georg also talked about:

  • Aquaculture’s pivotal role in fighting climate change and preserving marine biodiversity
  • Shift from wild fisheries to farmed species like salmon, shrimp, oysters, and seaweed
  • Innovations driving this rapidly growing sector
  • Logistical challenges critical for aquaculture success
  • Importance of consumer awareness
  • Global industry trends with regions like Asia, South America, and Norway that are leading the charge and tackling unique local challenges
  • Critical role of omega-3 fatty acids




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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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