Ocean Stewards President and Kona Blue Co-Founder Neil Anthony Sims Awarded “Excellence in Market Development” Award by Illinois Soybean Association
Kona Blue Water Farms, Inc. the first integrated marine fish hatchery and open ocean mariculture operation in the United States, today announced Neil Anthony Sims, co-founder and V.P. Research, has been awarded the Illinois Soybean Association’s (ISA) Excellence in Market Development Award for advocacy for growth of open ocean mariculture, and for innovative use of soy products
in aquaculture feeds. Kona Blue said that the award highlights the connection between America’s “amber waves of grain” from the heartland and her ‘shining seas,’ such as the offshore waters of the Pacific where the company grows its sashimi-grade Kona Kampachi® fish.
“We humbly accept the Illinois Soybean Association’s recognition for the work we have done to develop open ocean mariculture – both Kona Blue’s pioneering efforts, and the collective leadership of the Ocean Stewards Institute,” said Sims. Mr. Sims is also the founding president of Ocean Stewards. Kona Blue and Ocean Stewards exemplify the sound environmental rationale for expansion of open ocean mariculture in U.S. waters, and for increased use of soy products in feeding those fish.
The Ocean Stewards is the open ocean mariculture trade association that provides leadership and reasoned advocacy for the best use and management of the open oceans. According to the organization, increased production of environmentally-sound, healthful, high quality seafood from open ocean waters is an environmental, economic and public health imperative that must be balanced by a strong sense of protection of the ocean’s fragile ecosystems.
Kona Blue is a leader in research and development into increasing the amount of soy proteins and oils in the feed for Kona Kampachi, grown offshore. This is indicative of the increasing industry focus on the critical questions of global sustainability.
“The offshore operation in Kona has no measureable local environmental impacts beyond the immediate cage area,” said Sims, “but we need to also focus on the potential global impacts. Responsible mariculture is already some 60 times more efficient in its use of marine baitfish resources than targeting the top of the wild food chain, such as for salmon or swordfish. Increasing the use of soy proteins and oils can reduce our reliance on wild fishery resources so that we can further soften our footprint on the seas.”
Soybean meal currently comprises around 20 percent of the Kona Kampachi diet. “We have been running further research trials that suggest that soy protein concentrates may allow us to replace up to 40 percent of the marine-sourced protein in the diet,” said Sims. “We are also looking at replacing more of the fish oil with soy oil.”
"Neil has shown excellent leadership in the aquaculture industry as president of Ocean Stewards Institute," says Ron Moore, soybean farmer from Roseville and ISA chairman. "Aquaculture is important to soybean farmers because of the many opportunities being found to incorporate soybean oil and soybean meal into the diets of fish and other marine species."
According to ISA, soybeans continue to be the alternative “feed of choice” for the aquaculture industry. As aquaculture’s wild-fish based diets become more limited in scale, the soy industry promotes soybeans as a renewable, nutritious alternative to current practices. Several factors make soybean meal a top protein product for sustainable aquaculture. They include:
• Soybean meal has consistent quality and can be produced in a range of protein levels
Soybean meal can replace a significant portion of marine animal protein meals in the feeds of many cultured marine fish species because the amino acid profile of soybean protein is very similar to fish meal
• Feeding trials with feeds formulated with soybean meal as the primary protein source have yielded rapid fish growth and low feed conversion ratios
Illinois Soybean Association is the statewide organization for Illinois soybean growers. The farmers on its board administer soybean checkoff funds to support research, promotions and educational programs designed to increase demand for Illinois soybeans and administer legislation and membership programs.