These Bizarre Sea Creatures May Help Save Coral Reefs—If They Survive

Despite the ongoing plunder of the world’s sea cucumbers, the U.S. seems set on barring inspections of their exports.

Sea cucumbers aren’t cucumbers at all. But they share one thing with their terrestrial namesake: You can eat them.

That’s why a study released online on February 19 is disturbing. It shows that demand in China for these soft-bodied, bottom-dwelling marine animals related to sea urchins and starfish—a group known as echinoderms—isn’t declining, as some supposed, but continues to rise.

And that’s bad news for ocean habitats: As garbage collectors and nutrient recyclers, sea cucumbers play a critical role in keeping coral reef and other tropical ocean ecosystems healthy. Their digestive processes may even help buffer dying corals against ocean acidification.

Just a few decades ago the tubular creatures, which vary in length from about nine inches to more than six feet and sport a dizzying array of patterns and protuberances on their leathery hides, carpeted the ocean floor in tropical regions. But the 70-plus species of commercially valuable sea cucumbers are now being fished out of sea after sea to meet demand in an increasingly affluent China.

For the full story, read National Geographic.

Aqua-Spark Feeding Sustainable Aquaculture Movement with Keystone Investments

Netherlands-based investment fund Aqua-Spark is feeding the growth of the sustainable aquaculture movement with an increasingly large and diverse portfolio of investments in the sector.

The fund was launched in December 2013 with the goal of investing in small- to medium- sized enterprises that produce fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants “in ways that create positive social and environmental impact.” 

Aqua-Spark founders Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz believe their fund can be used both to better the world and to make money for their investors. The fund currently has USD 57.11 million (EUR 49.2 million) under management, and Velings and Novogratz have set the goal of increasing that to USD 1.74 billion (EUR 1.5 billion) by 2025.

Since 2015, the fund has made 15 investments in businesses including feed alternative producers Calysta and Protix, land-based Arctic charr producer Matorka, sea cucumber operation Indian Ocean Trepang, and ready-to-prepare seafood kit producer Love The Wild.

Click here for the full story from SeafoodSource News

Farming Sea Cucumbers in Madagascar… for Economic Hope and Conservation

Farming Sea Cucumbers in Madagascar… for Economic Hope and Conservation

Look at a map and find Madagascar, the fourth biggest island on Earth, just off the coast of east Africa. Focus on the dry southwest and find the town of Toliara, capital of this impoverished region.Now imagine a drive northwards through the searing heat along a bumpy, sandy trail.