Josh Goldman has been growing fish for nearly 30 years. He began as a student at Hampshire College, a hippie school in western Massachusetts (that also spawned entrepreneur Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farms). He started a company than farmed tilapia, and then another that farmed striped bass. Now, he’s the founder and chief executive of Australis, the world’s largest producer of barramundi.
Never heard of barramundi? You’re not alone.
This is what makes Australis such an interesting company. Josh decided to grow barramundi, not because it is a popular or well-known fish, but because the fish, which is native to Australia and southeast Asia, is an environmentally-preferable alternative to most farmed fish. It doesn’t need to eat a lot of other seafood to grow, it doesn’t make a lot of waste, it doesn’t require a lot of antibiotics and…oh, almost forgot…it tastes OK, too.
“It has a flavor profile that meets the broad preference of the middle of the market,” Josh says. “In other words, it’s a great fish because it doesn’t taste like fish. And it’s got a great health story, too.”
I met Josh last week at FORTUNE’s Brainstorm Green conference where I led a panel on sustainable seafood. (Yesterday’s blog covered Bumble Bee.) I’d read about him in Four Fish, a superb book on fishing by Paul Greenberg that was published last year. (See my blogpost The Industrialization of Fishing.) As Greenberg writes, “choosing which fish will be our domesticated ‘seafood’ will have huge ramifications for our species and for the planet.” Unhappily, we often choose wrong. Salmon, for example, has become one of the most widely-farmed fish because the demand for wild salmon exceeds the ocean’s supply. The trouble is, farmed salmon need to be fed lots of wild fish (roughly 3.5 pounds for every pound produced on the farm), the farmed salmon can escape and crossbreed with wild stocks and industrial-scale salmon farms generate lots of waste. [click to continue…]