Ways The Cattle Feed Industry & Sustainable Fish Are Pushing The Sustainability Needle Forward

A leader in the field shares his thoughts on how we can make our food systems more sustainable. Cover image

A leader in the field shares his thoughts on how we can make our food systems more sustainable.

We recently talked to Josh Goldman, CEO and co-founder of Australis Aquaculture. The company is the world’s largest producer of Barramundi, a type of sea bass. Aside from that, he’s also the project manager for Greener Grazing, a seaweed discovery initiative that works to develop the knowledge needed to farm Asparagopsis. This seaweed has the potential to be used as sustainable cattle feed by reducing methane production during digestion. In this post, we’ll cover the work Goldman is doing with both companies, though we’ll focus more on what’s happening over at Greener Grazing. 

For someone who’s as much of a leader in the sustainability industry as Goldman, it’s hard to imagine where and how he got his start. To hear him tell the story, the idea of sustainability is something that’s always been a part of his life. He recounts reading Francis Moore’s ‘Diet for a Small Planet’ in high school, a groundbreaking book on sustainable eating that paralleled his mounting interest in the world of sustainability. Though decades have passed since then, Goldman’s passion for the subject has never waned. Today, his work with Australis and Greener Grazing serve as beacons of hope, fighting the good fight for a better tomorrow. However, before getting into a few ways the two companies are actually helping, let’s take a look at what each does and a few notable achievements so far.

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Working With Sustainable Fish

Founded over 30 years ago, Australis was started in an effort to deliver on aquaculture’s promise of providing sustainable seafood for all–But what it needed was a sustainable fish to farm. Raising over 30 species over a three-year period, Goldman came upon Barramundi and decided this was the fish to place all bets on. The decision has only paid dividends. By raising Barramundi through climate-smart ocean farming initiatives, the species is now the fastest-growing sustainable fish in the world. 

What Are Some Of Their Notable Achievements?

  • Australis has produced the world’s first Fair Trade-certified Barramundi and Asia’s first Fair Trade-certified fish farm.
  • Australis raises Barramundi in the world’s first ASC-certified tropical marine finfish farm.
  • Australis is a $50 million revenue company with over 400 employees.

Changing The Game In The Cattle Feed Industry

More of what Goldman describes as a discovery company, Greener Grazing is a pioneer in the cattle feed industry. The company started roughly six years ago after a discovery of the uses of a particular red seaweed called Asparagopsis taxiformis. The seaweed had fascinating anti-methanogenic effects when incorporated into cattle feed. By adding 0.2% of it into cattle feed, it was able to mitigate 90% of the methane belched out during fermentation. Seeing as methane from cattle production has the same impact on the environment as global transportation, Greener Grazing’s work in the sustainable cattle feed industry has the potential to change the world. 

What Are Some Of Their Notable Achievements?

  • Greener Grazing is the world’s leading effort to close the lifecycle of Asparagopsis and develop the tools to initiate global ocean-based cultivation.
  • Greener Grazing’s mission is backed by numerous studies and receiving support from major philanthropic organizations. 

Making The Cattle Feed Industry Sustainable

Cattle production is responsible for two-thirds of agriculture’s global warming footprint. If that wasn’t alarming enough, beef production is expected to increase 50% by 2050. Understanding this, and also the fact that methane emitted from cattle production has a warming potential more than 28 times that of carbon dioxide, it’s easy to see why Goldman and the team at Greener Grazing are putting such an effort into making the cattle feed industry sustainable. Thankfully, they’re not alone.

In 2014, researchers at CSIRO and James Cook University tested over 20 different red seaweeds to find out whether including seaweed in an animal’s diet could reduce methane emissions. Out of all seaweeds tested, Asparagopsis stood out. Further studies by CSIRO and other universities expanded on the discovery and they’ve all reached a similar consensus. Today, it’s accepted that including a small amount of Asparagopsis into cattle feed can reduce methane production by over 80%.

The One Problem With Seaweed Cow Methane

While the potential for Asparagopsis is great, one core challenge Greener Grazing faces is the development of a steady supply of the seaweed. The fact is, Asparagopsis has never been farmed before. As such, despite all the positive findings evidenced by scientific research, there’s still a lot of work to be done before this sustainable cattle feed can be produced commercially. On the plus side, Greener Grazing isn’t facing as much of an uphill battle as one might think.

For one, Asparagopsis is native to 60 countries, with a number of them being in Southeast Asia. Besides that, Asparagopsis cultivation can be used for poverty mitigation by employing people in coastal communities who can farm the seaweed. At the moment, the model follows one similar to that of the shrimp industry. Greener Grazing is developing the genetics and the hatchery know-how that will allow them to set up and license hatcheries throughout many countries. While the challenge is there, Goldman has a roadmap to overcome it. The decision then of investing in a company like Greener Grazing can only be considered a sound choice both morally and financially.  

Why Sustainable Fish Are The Future Of Seafood

While you might now believe in the potential of Asparagopsis for making the cattle feed industry sustainable, what’s the story with Barramundi as a sustainable fish? For Goldman, it comes down to the shift from land-based animal to marine-based animal proteins. The fact is, when you consider the carbon per kilogram of production of each, seafood has significantly lower numbers. As such, by making higher-quality seafood more affordable–as is the case with Barramundi–it’s possible to provide a population with healthier food that’s good for the environment. 

Once you get into comparing Barramundi with popular fish species like Salmon or Tuna, the issue shifts to problems with overfishing, illegal and under-regulated fisheries, or, on a grander scale, the imbalance affecting our food systems due to climate change. This is why Goldman believes there’s a need to use aquaculture in a restorative manner. As he and many others believe, Barramundi is the sustainable fish that will do just that.  

Give Greener Grazing a follow: https://www.greenergrazing.org/


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About Author

Liam Langan


Liam Langan is Japanese English, born in Singapore, and considers Tokyo his home. With a father who is a journalist and a mother who is a translator, Liam was raised in a literary household, which has informed his dream of one day publishing a novel. Currently, he lives in Saigon, where he works as an English teacher and freelance writer, all the while continuing to find inspiration in his writing.

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Josh Goldman

CEO & Co-Founder of Australis Aquaculture

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