Greenfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A.-based Australis Aquaculture was awarded the U.S. State Department’s Award for Corporate Excellence on 8 December, in recognition for its effort to cultivate a seaweed species that can reduce the methane emissions of cattle when included in their diet.
Created in 1999, the annual awards recognize U.S. companies “that uphold high standards as responsible members of their communities.” They are also meant to reward firms that advance initiatives aligned with international best practices such as those outlined in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
Eight companies were named winners in 2021, with two winners each in the categories of climate innovation, health security, and economic inclusion. Nominations for the awards are advanced by the chiefs of mission of U.S. embassies and consulates, primarily for work done internationally, with finalists and winners chosen by a selection committee comprised of senior U.S. government officials.
Australis Aquaculture, the winner in the climate innovation category for small-to medium-sized enterprises, was nominated by the Chargé d'affaires at the U.S. mission in Vietnam. The State Department noted Australis became the first and only Fair Trade-certified barramundi-farming company in Asia in April 2021. In March, the firm became the world’s first producer to earn recognition under the Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s (ASC) tropical marine finfish standard for its ocean-based farm in Vietnam. The company was named to SeafoodSource’s Top 25: Sustainability & Conservation list, published by SeafoodSource in September, 2020.
“Australis Aquaculture has pioneered climate-smart ocean farming in Vietnam’s marine tropics and is developing technology to cultivate a seaweed species with the potential to eliminate methane emissions from cattle when part of their diet,” the State Department said in its announcement.
In 2018, Australis launched its Greener Grazing initiative to investigate the potential use of Asparagopsis, a tropical seaweed, which has the potential to reduce methane emissions from cows.
“We are tremendously proud to have our efforts to bring a new model of sustainable aquaculture to the marine tropics recognized by the U.S. government,” Australis Aquaculture CEO Josh Goldman said in remarks at the event. “Tropical marine aquaculture remains one of the largest untapped opportunities for sustainable food production.”
Outdoor clothing manufacturer Patagonia was also given an Award for Corporate Excellence in the climate innovation category for its “initiatives to promote nature-based climate solutions, including through strengthening legal environmental frameworks,” according to the State Department. The company was nominated for the award by the U.S. embassy in Argentina.
In an acceptance speech, Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellart touted his company’s efforts to preserve “200,000 acres of sea” through the promotion of marine protected areas in Australia and to ban fish farms in Argentina, an initiative that was advanced in July 2021 with Argentina’s southernmost province of Tierra del Fuego unanimously approving a bill prohibiting salmon farming.
Photo courtesy of Australis Aquaculture