That’s Scott Nichols, the director of Verlasso. Verlasso, a joint venture of DuPont and AquaChile, farms salmon in Patagonia, and seeks to do so in a responsible way. So Scott has a story to tell.
“We feel a tremendous urgency to get this right,” Scott said, when we met recently in Washington. “We have to learn our way into it. We don’t have all the answers, and we may not have all the questions.”
A PhD. biochemist who studied business at Wharton, Scott, who is 57, never expected to find himself in the business of fish farming. But as he researched new business opportunities for DuPont in the mid-2000s — he had earlier worked on improving the productivity of maize and beans and on Sorona, the company’s plant-based fiber — he got interested in salmon aquaculture. Aquaculture was booming, for obvious reasons: demand for fish is growing, and the supply of wild-caught fish is flat. The problem, was, salmon aquaculture then and now usually relies upon fish feed made in part from forage fish, such as anchovies, herring and sardines. About four pounds of wild-caught feeder fish are typically needed to produce the fish oil to make one pound of salmon, according to Verlasso. So salmon aquaculture, rather than easing pressures on the ocean’s stocks of wild fish, was actually making things worse.
“The system was broken,” Scott said.
Scientists at giant DuPont (2012 revenues: $35 billion) discovered that they could substitute a genetically-engineered yeast for the fish oils, and preserve the [click to continue...]