Atlantic Aqua Farms: Going deeper on sustainable seafood
The investment: In 2017, we acquired 100 per cent of Atlantic Aqua Farms, a premium shellfish company.
Atlantic Aqua initially caught our eye as a seafood production leader. The largest grower and processor of high quality Prince Edward Island (PEI) mussels and oysters, it ran a tight ship from an operations standpoint and held several eco-certifications. It was also primed to take advantage of increasing global consumer demand for sustainable, low-carbon protein (mussels and oysters require no external feed and grow in a symbiotic manner with their natural ecosystem).
Through our investment, Atlantic Aqua is doubling down on science and innovation. For example, it hired a lead scientist with a PhD in Biology and built a world-class hatchery in PEI. Efforts are also enabling the company to better protect its products against the adverse effects of climate change, including rising sea temperatures.
When the pandemic hit, the seafood industry-which is tied to the dine-in restaurant industry-was hit hard. As a result, the demand for Atlantic Aqua product tumbled. As we’re invested for the long term, we trusted that Atlantic Aqua’s eco-friendly, sustainable production model and the popularity of shellfish would ultimately rebound. And slowly but surely it has; in fact, oyster demand has surged past pre-pandemic levels.
How we’re investing to make a mark
Through our partnership and investment in Atlantic Aqua, we have helped it:
- Invest in a new long-term strategic pillar: science and innovation
- Build a new multi-million-dollar hatchery and shellfish innovation centre
- Acquire an oyster hatchery and farming operation in Maine. This is the company’s first of many acquisitions in the U.S.
- Expand and double its oyster business
- Evaluate other strategic opportunities including carbon sequestration with algae species
“Ontario Teachers' has a long-term focus – we’re talking about how to grow the business for the next hundred years, not the next hundred days. They are also a world-class organization with a great reputation for environmental stewardship and social responsibility. They’re excellent partners and investors.”
Terry Ennis, CEO
Atlantic Aqua Farms