NewFish Partners with Cawthron Institute to Develop Sustainable ‘Blue’ Algal Protein

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New Zealand’s NewFish and the Cawthron Institute have entered into a strategic partnership aimed at commercializing microalgae for use in specialized protein.

Alternative seafood startupNewFish, with offices in New Zealand and the U.S., has been working with algae fermentation for specialized ingredient development. The new partnership with Cawthron is aimed at accelerating its work and the overall seafood successors category growth.

Blue protein

According to Toby Lane, incoming NewFish CEO, resource-efficient and functional “blue” ocean-based proteins play a critical role in shaping the future of the protein sector.

Photo by Vita Marija Murenaite on Unsplash

“With CO2 at its highest point in more than two million years, and the global population growing, we urgently need new sources of naturally sourced, high quality protein with reduced ecological externalities,” Lane said in a statement. “We have a responsibility to provide consumers and customers with great tasting, healthy protein that has a light environmental footprint. Microalgae will play a pivotal role in delivering this.”

Alternatives to seafood are critical in developing a sustainable food system. Overfishing is depleting fish stocks around the world, and the fishing industry is a leading cause of ocean plastic pollution, with ghost fishing gear making up about ten percent of all ocean plastic. Fishing is also tied to human rights violations, bycatch, and environmental pollution. Fish farming is also a leader in ocean pollution.

Seafood successors

A growing number of companies have begun exploring alternatives to conventional seafood, from Good Catch’s popular plant-based tuna to vegan shrimp from Thai Union, one of the largest conventional shrimp producers in the world.

The Cawthron Institute is a world leader in seaweed and microalgae, working with bioactive compounds including algae. Cawthron is home to the Culture Collection of Microalgae, which includes more than 600 types of both marine and freshwater algae.

OMG Shrimp launched in August from Thai Union

Cawthron and NewFish will share research and resources on the development of algae-based nutrition.

“With the ocean making up 96 percent of Aotearoa New Zealand’s territory, there is a significant opportunity for our waters and its natural resources to provide for us now, and into the future, said Volker Kuntzsch, Cawthron Chief Executive.

“What fascinates me is that the environmental impact of growing algae and seaweed is so much smaller than traditional protein,” Kuntzsch said. “Exploring the untapped potential of marine bioactives could signal the establishment of an exciting new industry for our country, with the aim of creating an exemplary blue economy with a healthy natural environment as the ultimate ambition.”


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