Tilabras workers hand feeding tilapia a vegetarian diet.

UK ocean fund invests €10m in Brazilian tilapia farmer

Vegetarian-fed fish ‘are most sustainable alternative’ to wild-catch


UK-based sustainable aquaculture fund Ocean 14 Capital has invested €10 million in Tilabras, a Brazilian tilapia farmer that feeds its fish a vegetarian diet.

The money will be used to increase Tilabras’ capacity and improve production efficiency, as well as continuing the vertical integration of the group to a new processing plant and hatchery, said Ocean 14 founding partner and chief investment officer Francisco Saraiva Gomes.

“Tilapia farmed inland in high carrying capacity man-made sites is the most sustainable alternative to whitefish caught from the ocean,” said Gomes in a press release. “The fund’s investment in Tilabras supports the company’s vision to become the lowest ‘natural-cost’, at-scale producer, of white fish in the world.”

Great expansion

Tilabras founder Nicolas Landolt said Ocean 14 Capital’s expertise, knowledge, and ability to execute would help his company enhance growth while improving resource efficiency.

“The period ahead of us is one of great expansion and development and we must do so with an ever-stronger commitment to sustainability. We are looking forward to building our hatchery and breeding operations, as well as the expansion of our farming and processing plants,” said Landolt.

Nicolas Landolt: Company must expand "with an ever-stronger commitment to sustainability".

The Ocean 14 Capital impact investment fund was launched in December last year and has attracted €100 million, with another €50 m still to be raised.

The fund’s founders say they are searching for entrepreneurs and businesses with big ideas around aquaculture and alternative proteins, reducing plastic waste pollution, protecting ecosystems and marine flora, and ending overfishing.

Tilapia is the future

Ocean 14’s managers use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 14: Life Below Water - to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” - as a guiding principle.

Tilabras’ use of a “plant friendly” diet without the need for marine ingredients, and the fact that tilapia is more affordable than other commonly farmed species, such as salmon, tick the boxes for Ocean 14.

“Wild fish catches have been stagnant for nearly 20 years, despite huge growth in fishing efforts and technology. So, the only way demand for fish can be met without stripping the seas is to scale sustainable aquaculture production methods,” said Ocean 14 founding partner Chris Gorell Barnes.

“Our partnership with Tilabras focuses on enabling this transition to large scale, low impact fish farming, harnessing the best of modern technology. Tilapia is set to grow to a $9.2 billion industry by 2027 - it really is the future in terms of how we can feed the world.”

Three investments

Ocean 14 Capital impact investment fund has already made three investments this year.

SyAqua, a shrimp breeding technology specialist was among the first beneficiaries of the fund along with AION, a Norwegian plastic management platform that uses proprietary technology to offer ‘Circularity As A Service’ to large-scale industries, and MITO, a clam hatchery and breeding Italian company.

The fund also recently received a commitment for €10 million from the Constitutional Reserve Fund of Monaco.

Ocean 14 said it is on track to invest in eight companies this year, and to grow its portfolio to between 20 and 25 businesses within three years.