Latina Female Power on International Women’s Day: Aquaculture Stewardship Council Supports Women in Ocean Food Innovators

La Paz (Mexico) – Aquaculture Stewardship Council is proud to support women as they venture into the world of aquaculture and blue economy. In an exceptional opportunity in partnership with Conservation International (CI) Ventures and Hatch Blue, an all-female cohort gathered in La Paz, Mexico to showcase their innovative ideas in promoting blue food communities and local food systems.

Wendy Banta, Head of Supply Chain Assurance at ASC, attended the event to talk about the role and benefits of responsible aquaculture across the supply chain.

Wendy Banta (front row, third left), ASC’s Head of Supply Chain Assurance, joined the event to discuss the role of responsible aquaculture

Thirteen female-led companies were featured in the Women in Ocean Food Innovation Studio in January 2024. Participants presented and developed their business ideas in an intense two-week mentorship and networking programme. They were given support to build their business models, improve their pitching skills, validate the opportunities in their markets and grow their networks across the blue economy.

Participants have been paired with industry leaders and introduced to dedicated venture philanthropists and impact investors. There is also the potential for companies to attract follow-on investment from Hatch and CI Ventures.

Speaking about her experience at the event, Banta said, “Engaging with driven, capable women who are transforming aquaculture and other ocean food industries was insightful and inspirational. ASC can help empower them to include environmental and social responsibility in their business models for sustainable growth and development by providing the knowledge, support and network to achieve responsible aquaculture.”

Wayne Murphy, Hatch co-founder and partner, said, “It was truly a privilege to be part of such a globally unique event. Standing room only for an engaged audience which witnessed only female speakers – entrepreneurs, investors, industry and government representatives on stage. Increased inclusion and diversity in the Blue Economy are very vital to the future of the industry and exciting events like this showcasing amazing female talent and experience needs to be the rule rather than the exception going forward.”

From biotechnology, to genetics, to health and supply chain, the topics covered during the sessions were rich and diverse. Participants included Organización de Pescadores Rescatando la Ensenada (OPRE), an all-female oyster farming cooperative based in Mexico, which uses suspended sacks as their main cultivation method. OPRE won Best Pitch during the event.

Leaders showcase their innovative ideas in Women in Ocean Food Innovation Studio in Mexico

Tres Peces Pescadería works on the Chile’s first mobile fishmonger which connects fishermen with market, while Chilean company AQUIT develops a preventive treatment for infections that replaces antibiotics, improves survival rates, and boosts natural immunity after only seven days of using it with feed.

Seaweed is also a focal point of interest among many innovators. Brazil-based Phycolabs uses seaweed to create textiles and materials as an alternative to petrochemical products. Community-based Belize Women’s Seaweed Farmers Association uses submerged farming techniques and actively supports its members in the development and marketing of value-added seaweed products through branding, microenterprises and collaborative initiatives. Mexico and Norway-based startup Thalasso builds container-based micro-biorefineries to extract high value ingredients and create products from Sargassum seaweed, which is negatively impacting coastlines around the world, to create beneficial and commercial products.

Diana Allerbon, Aquit’s CEO said, “It was a very unique programme with insightful information and amazing speakers and mentors. A tight collaboration spirit arose among all the teams, and the bonds that were built will surely help us all through this exciting but difficult process of growing a startup. Furthermore, it was a privilege to know about the background of ASC certification standards, systems and tools, critical to promote the reduction of antibiotic use in aquaculture, which is one of Aquit’s main goals.”

This Latin American cohort comes three years after the first globally-focused Women In Aquaculture studio that took place online in 2021 and three years after the in-person Women In Ocean Food 2022 Innovation Studio in Bali, Indonesia. It will be followed by future studios in Latin America and Africa.