Why are We Fishing for Fish to Feed to the Fish we Feed to the World?

6/6/18 – This blog post is written by Nobilis Aqua, a team of four students in the GSSE MBA program at Colorado State University whose goal is to find opportunities to make the aquaculture industry more sustainable.

Three days of travel and our team is finally reaching one of the most important destinations of our summer venture research. We’re tired – exhausted from the late spring heat – but excited to see the shoreline of Havana. For months, we’ve waited to see this location specifically. This Havana, however, isn’t located along the beautiful shores of Cuba as you might have thought. Rather, our team is right in the middle of the American heartland in rural Illinois. None of us probably dreamed we’d have any real ambition to visit this particular small town located about three and a half hours south of Chicago. However, this town is specifically special to us as a GSSE MBA venture team because Havana, Illinois is the location of the largest population of Asian carp anywhere in the world.

Why is that so significant? Glad you asked!

America's Heartland in rural Illinois

America’s Heartland in rural Illinois

Our team has spent the past half year researching various opportunities around how to help the aquaculture industry become more sustainable. As our global population continues to inch closer to an estimated 9 billion, the world’s food supply feels an increasing burden to keep up with demand pressure. The fishing industry is particularly vulnerable when it comes to meeting this demand. With more than 3 billion people living in or around coastal communities, our world’s fish stocks are disappearing quicker than ever before.

While many see aquaculture as a path to help alleviate these pains, this growing industry is still no savior to world fishery issues. Today, 3.2 billion pounds of fish are harvested annually in order to help society feed farmed fish. Not only is this impacting the wild fishery ecosystems that are reliant on these lower trophic fish (such as mackerel, sardines, menhaden, etc.) but it’s simultaneously perpetuating the issue of overfishing. Shrinking fisheries that act as sources of protein in fish feed mean rising feed prices for fish farmers and an aquaculture industry desperately in need of alternative protein sources.

The Mississippi River

That’s where we come in – Nobilis Aqua! Our venture seeks to improve sustainability of the aquaculture industry by tackling the unsustainable protein sources found in traditional fish feed. We believe that by using invasive Asian carp as a substitute protein source for fishmeal, not only will we help improve the biodiversity along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, but will provide a premium quality product for fish feed producers to source. Our goal this summer is to develop contacts and resources throughout Illinois and Kentucky to establish our supply chain. We’ll be working closely with the Department of Natural Resources in the coming weeks to learn more about the Asian carp invasion here in the Midwest, while forming relationships to help build the foundation of our venture. See you on the river!

Three of the four Nobilis Aqua team members: Diana, Erica, and David. Photo credit to team member #4: Kelly.

Three of the four Nobilis Aqua team members: Diana, Erica, and David. Photo credit to team member #4: Kelly.

This entry was posted in Highly Applied Curriculum, Stories from the Field, Sustainable Enterprise and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why are We Fishing for Fish to Feed to the Fish we Feed to the World?

  1. Katherine Gregory says:

    Great post team Nobilis Aqua! Looking forward to more updates!

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