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Fish 2.0 Exclusive interview: Neil Anthony Sims, Co-Founder & CEO Kampachi Farms

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Six seafood innovators capped the Fish 2.0 Competition Finals & Sustainable Seafood Innovation Forum in Palo Alto. We speak to one of the winners, Neil Anthony Sims, Co-Founder & CEO Kampachi Farms.

In 140 characters or less – what is Kampachi Farms?

Yikes! 140 characters?! Ummm … OK ….  We are leading the production of responsibly grown, sashimi-grade fish in the open ocean, then branding and selling at a price-point competitive with yellowfin tuna

That’s exactly 140 … but I would always love to add that we have product quality that’s been favorably compared to bluefin tuna.

What was the driver for creating Kampachi Farms – what gap did it fill?

I was trained as a fisheries biologist, and early in my career, I witnessed first-hand the frustration of managing commercial fisheries. It felt like I was refereeing the sacking of Rome. I felt compelled to find an another way, to nurture the fish that we crave – the snappers, groupers, trevallies and tunas – to work with the ocean’s assimilative capacities, and to produce a great-tasting fish, with a softer ‘footprint’ on the seas.

We had pioneered production of this species, branded as Kona Kampachi, out of Hawaii, but there were limited expansion opportunities in the islands, and we needed to get closer to our market. Kampachi Farms Mexico is now focused on growing our Cabo Kampachi™ in the Sea of Cortez (same species, new location), where we can gain some efficiencies of scale, and we can drive our fish to market, rather than relying on airfreight.

Who does it primarily serve?

The whole world desperately needs more seafood. Recommendations are that US consumers should be doubling the amount of seafood that they eat. This could lead to a 35% reduction in deaths from heart disease, and a 17% reduction in overall mortality. Those data rank right up there with seatbelts and smoking as a public health imperative.

Our initial focus is on white tablecloth restaurants and the sushi trade, but as our volume increases, and consumers become more familiar with the brand, then we will reach into broad-line seafood restaurants and retailers across North America, and possibly into Europe.

What difference does Kampachi Farms want to make?

More than just increasing current seafood consumption, we also need to find sources of sustainably-grown seafood that consumers will prefer over beef, pork, or other terrestrial animal proteins. If the 3 billion people on the planet that are rising into the middle class in the next 35 years end up eating beef, then we will truly be in a “world of hurt”. The impacts on GHG emissions, water use and land use from that level of cattle production will be horrendous. Beef is already responsible for around 10% of total GHG emissions (as CO2-equivalents).

We need a planet that eats more seafood, and unfortunately, catfish, carp or tilapia won’t do it. It needs to be a fish that is delicious and appealing, that could be comparable in flavor and texture to bluefin tuna, but which we can raise in a responsible manner. Hence, Cabo Kampachi™ …

What are the barriers to making that difference?

In the U.S., the primary barrier is permitting. This is why American ideas, engineering, entrepreneurship and investment are flooding out of the country, and taking seafood jobs with them. But the root cause for that permitting bottleneck, and the fundamental challenge that we face as an industry – and as a society – is the broad, general aversion to “farmed” fish.

We love our farmed chicken, and farmed pork and farmed beef (all of which, on a Life Cycle Assessment basis, have far more impact on the planet), yet somehow we have smeared farmed fish. In the past, the anti-aquaculture activists and anti-fish-farm foundations created this corrosive message. Many of them now recognize that they were misled, and so have stayed silent. But silence isn’t enough. We need consumers to be preferentially selecting farmed fish over other forms of animal protein. And to bring that sea-change to public awareness, we need the environmental advocacy groups and foundations to help disseminate this message: eat more farmed fish!

Who’s helping you overcome those barriers?

The Mexican government is just great – they understand the importance of aquaculture for jobs and food security. There were once flourishing fisheries for shrimp, sardines, tuna and squid throughout the Sea of Cortez, but the stocks are now greatly reduced, and the fisheries face increasing regulations. The Mexican government recognizes the long-term sustainable and scalable growth potential for farming the seafood that we crave. They have been very pro-active, and supportive of our efforts. There is still a rigorous permitting process in place, but they see the need to move forward.

You recently won a Fish 2.0 award. Without being modest, why do you think you won?

We have been able to demonstrate a commercially scaleable, ecologically responsible solution to a small, but critical part of the seafood crisis: open ocean culture of sashimi-grade fish.

We will grow our Cabo Kampachi™ offshore, in open ocean conditions in the Sea of Cortez. That allows us to scale our operation to over 18,000 tons/year by 2024, but to do so without any significant impact – and often no measureable impact – on ocean ecosystems. By siting in brisk currents, with ample water depth, we can ensure that our operation works within the assimilative capacities of the ecosystem.

We have also been able to raise this superb, sashimi-grade fish on a zero-fishmeal diet. That is a critical step – we no longer need to feed fish to grow fish. By incorporating sustainable, scalable agricultural proteins and oils into our fish’s diet, we can reduce the dependency on forage fisheries, and move closer to our ultimate goal: softening our footprint on the seas.

Is the fishing industry’s actions today commensurate with the significant fish stock challenges we face?

Fishing industry? I’m not so sure of that. If we are going to move to more scalable solutions, we need to be nurturing the fish that we crave, rather than just taking. Even if the ‘take’ is well-managed, it’s still a net detriment to the oceans.

The current seafood crisis is driven by the dual facts that demand is increasing, yet wild stocks simply cannot sustain any greater pressure. And as I have described, we need to eat more seafood, not less. Eating more farmed seafood is critical for consumer health, and for global health. And it’s also critical to building viable ocean-related businesses. People, planet, profits … it can all come together in open ocean aquaculture, if we do this right.

How can people – individuals and organisations – find out more about Kampachi Farms?

We are currently raising funds for our Kampachi Farms Mexico project, to stock our first cohort in the water. We would welcome outreach from institutions or individual investors who have interest in helping us change the way that the world views seafood. They can see more at www.kampachifarm.com, or please reach out to me at neil[at]kampachifarm.com. Thanks. Aloha.

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How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions

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auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.

Progress

The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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Consumers Investing in Eco-Friendly Cars with the UK Green Revolution

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Eco-Friendly Cars

The UK public appears to be embracing the electric car UK Green Revolution, as recent statistics reveal that more and more consumers are making the switch from petrol and diesel to electric or alternatively fuelled vehicles. The demand for diesel fell by almost a third in October compared to last year, whilst hybrid and electric cars rose by a staggering 36.9%.

Time for UK Green Revolution Change

So, what is the reason for this sudden change? This comes down to the current situation in the UK, which has led to people embracing eco-friendly technologies and automobiles. One of the main reasons is the Government’s clean air plans, which includes the impending 2040 ban on petrol and diesel automobiles. There is then the rollout of the T-Charge in London, the city of Oxford announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel from the city centre by 2020 and various other big announcements which take up a lot of space and time in the UK press.

h2>Diesel’s Reputation

In addition to this, the negative publicity against diesel has had a huge impact on the UK public. This has led to a lot of confusion over emissions, but actually, the newest low emission diesel automobiles will not face restrictions and are not as bad to drive as many believe. Most notably, German brand Volkswagen has been affected due to the emissions scandal in recent times. It was discovered that some emissions controls for VW’s turbocharged direct injection diesel engines were only activated during laboratory testing, so these automobiles were emitting 40 times more NO in real-world driving. As a result of this and all the negative publicity, the manufacturer has made adaptations and amended their vehicles in Europe. Additionally, they have made movements to improve the emissions from their cars, meaning that they are now one of the cleaner manufacturers. Their impressive range includes the Polo, Golf and Up, all of which can be found for affordable prices from places like Unbeatable Car.

The Current Market

The confusion over the Government’s current stance on diesel has clearly had a huge impact on the public. So much so that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called on the Government to use the Autumn Budget to restore stability in the market and encourage the public to invest in the latest low emission automobiles. SMMT believes that this is the fastest and most effective way to address the serious air quality concerns in this country.

Incentives

One way that the Government has encouraged the public to make the switch is by making incentives. Motorists can benefit from a grant when they purchase a new plug-in vehicle, plus there are benefits like no road tax for electric vehicles and no congestion charge. When these are combined with the low running costs, it makes owning an electric automobile an appealing prospect and especially because there are so many great models available and a type to suit every motorist. One of the main reasons holding motorists back is the perceived lack of charging points. However, there are currently over 13,000 up and down the country with this number rapidly increasing each month. It is thought that the amount of charging points will outnumber petrol stations by 2020, so it is easy to see more and more motorists start to invest in electric cars way ahead of the 2040 ban.

It is an interesting time in the UK as people are now embracing the electric car revolution. The Government’s clean air plans seem to have accelerated this revolution, plus the poor publicity that diesel has received has only strengthened the case for making the switch sooner rather than later.

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