A Sustainable Alternative to Conventional Sea Fishing

13. Climate Action 14. Life Below Water 17. Partnerships for the Goals

Overview

“FRESH is the first urban marine fish farm of industrial size. This means that it is possible to produce marine fish without access to the sea,” said Peter Zeller, CEO of FRESH Corporation AG, summarizing the innovation. His company is based in Völklingen, a small town within the federal state of Saarland, Germany. 

Authors

Joshua Bißbort

Joshua Bißbort

Marc Klein

Marc Klein

School

University of Kaiserslautern

University of Kaiserslautern

Professor

Ekaterina Ivanova

Ekaterina Ivanova

Innovation

The foundation of the company is closely related to a sustainable restructuring of the former coal-mining town of Völklingen undertaken by the local government in cooperation with private businesses. However, initially the development mainly focused on scientific research and had no commercial focus. In order to further develop and stress the importance of the commercial component, Peter Zeller, now CEO, decided to invest in the company. He believes that sustainability and profitability not only can be combined but also complement each other.

The aim of FRESH is to establish a system that allows production of high-quality fish at any location in the world and within the scope of ecologically and economically justifiable costs, thus leaving a very small environmental footprint. 

A Sustainable Alternative to Conventional Sea Fishing

Inspiration

Peter Zeller explained that the original idea behind FRESH is closely linked to two different aspects: “the site-specific aspect and the more general aspect of global food security and food production.”

Everything started with the decline of the coal industry and the closely related restructuring of the urban infrastructure in Völklingen. The aim was to establish a cluster of diverse sustainable technologies in the area.

The urban marine fish farm was launched to address the needs of global population growth and the rising demand for food. The company founders chose to produce fish since it is the most efficient source of animal protein. Only 1.4 kg of food is needed to achieve 1 kg of growth in the fish (for comparison, cattle would need 5.5 kg of food in order to gain the same amount of weight).

FRESH is meant to serve as a global role model for other companies to follow. 

Overall impact

Although many people used to think that "sustainable = expensive," nowadays a rethinking process can be observed. Peter Zeller particularly emphasizes that “sustainable does not mean expensive.” The change in thinking is mainly reflected in the constantly growing acceptance and demand of consumers as well as trading partners.

“I do not believe that urban marine fish farms will replace sea fishing, but I think that such farms will help to implement the idea of sustainable cultivation at sea,” commented Peter Zeller. Consequently, FRESH is already making a major contribution toward counteracting the constantly growing overfishing of the sea and toward promoting the idea of a sustainable economy in the sector of sea fishing. 

Business benefit

A major benefit of urban marine fish farms is the elimination of the long transportation routes and cooling times that are necessary for many products at present (for example, for sea fish). From an economic point of view, the more efficient logistics guarantee greater freshness of the products and will lead to enormous cost savings.

“The more sustainable I can be, the better my economic success.” With this statement, Peter Zeller put the concept behind the company in a nutshell: the more efficient the use of the existing resources, the lower the costs; thus, the higher the profit. 

Social and environmental benefit

According to Peter Zeller, the greatest ecological benefit of the urban marine fish farm is the so-called “Low-Impact Fish.” Due to the more efficient logistics (the elimination of long transportation routes and cooling times), the environmental footprint of a FRESH fish is significantly reduced to one-tenth that of a “normal” sea/marine fish.

Furthermore, urban marine fish farms neither exploit the sea nor destroy ecosystems. Conventional sea fishing produces up to 60% of waste (bycatch, processing, and waste), whereas this waste is reduced to a minimum in fish farms.

Another sustainable innovation of FRESH Corporation AG is the closed water cycle, which is very resource-saving since only 0.3% of the water needs to be replaced on a daily basis.

Through the use of special bio-filter systems, the company can further guarantee crystal-clear and biologically purified water. This is an enormous benefit to the consumer since no antibiotics need to be used to fight diseases of the fish. Furthermore, the heavy metal contamination of a farm fish is significantly lower than that of a sea fish.

Moreover, FRESH has a positive impact on the region of Völklingen itself. The creation of new jobs and the focus on sustainable technologies, on which the company is based, result in an increased attractiveness of the former coal-mining town.

Another social impact is that the value added is kept within the areas since the products are being produced and consumed locally.    

Interview

Peter Zeller, CEO

Peter Zeller, CEO

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FRESH Corporation AG

FRESH Corporation AG

Völklingen, Deutschland

Business Website: http://www.freshcorporation.com/

Year Founded: 2015

Number of Employees: 11-50

FRESH is the world's first urban saltwater fish farm. FRESH fish are bred in saltwater pools in a closed water cycle and are fed certified organic feed; they are guaranteed to be free of antibiotics and undesirable environmental influences. The farm's close proximity to consumers reduces resource use and provides superior freshness.