Eco Fisheries LLC
Eco Fisheries LLC is seeking $20 million to scale its fishing operations targeting the overwhelming Asian Carp population throughout the Upper Mississippi River watershed.
- $1.3 million has been invested in Eco to date
- Led by Captain Joe Gillas who has over 20 years of international experience in commercial fishing, processing and marketing
- Plan to harvest aggressively using equipment and technologies that have proven successful in the challenging fishing markets of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska
- Post-harvesting, the fish are expected to be processed into numerous profitable products including fishmeal, fish oil, and surimi (a uniquely functional food ingredient made of fish proteins)
- Plan to focus on harvested Silver Carp and Bighead Carp (both types of Asian Carp)
- Operations expected to commence within 180 days of funding
- There is substantial demand for Asian Carp/fish protein products from large buyers around the world
- Asian Carp is a huge pest, and there is support from state governments, to encourage harvesting.
- Asian Carp was imported and introduced into various ponds and lakes in the 1970s to improve water quality
- Since that time, the species has escaped and spread throughout the Upper Mississippi River watershed – Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, Arkansas, and Tennessee Rivers and their adjoining lakes and tributaries
- Major threat is to the Great Lakes, where Asian Carp could threaten the $7 billion fishing and $9 billion boating industries
- S. Army Corps of Engineers has built an electric barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to stop the carp from moving from the watershed to the Great Lakes
- Target Asian Carp
- the most marketable; in high demand
- eaten in Europe, Africa, and Asia for the most part, but also in parts of the US where it is referred to as Silver Fin or Kentucky Tuna
- Eco has market letters of intent for more than triple the production, and verbal commitments from long time buyers (members of Eco have long-term business relationships with these buyers)
- Target species is abundant
- large population of Asian Carp
- can harvest as much carp as possible for as long as possible because it has become such a persistent problem
- current Asian Carp fisheries lack the sophistication and vertical integration of operations that other more developed fisheries possess
- Founders bring extensive vertically integrated fishery operations and management experience
Captain Joe Gillas
Entire career in fishing and maritime industry. Has travelled the world and been involved in onshore and offshore large fishing enterprises. Extensive experience in building factory ships, converted foreign flag vessels, converted US flag vessels and done numerous company startups throughout the US and Far East. Significant business experience including financial, operations, marketing, production, logistics, safety, and general business management. Has held several leadership positions. Licensed Maritime Captain, FDA certified, and Toyota Production Trained.
Has been involved in the seafood industry for the past 40 years. Started fishing for off-shore lobsters during alternative semesters while attending University of Denver. Continued fishing on shrimp trawlers out of south Texas until going to work for a large seafood importer in New York City, primarily dealing with suppliers from more than two dozen different countries on production, quality, and sales. Started own seafood importing company in Boston specializing in frozen fish blocks for further processing. That company purchased and expanded an existing plant that manufactured breaded fish sticks and portions from frozen blocks. Reached $100 million in sales. Added another existing facility that offloaded directly from fishing boats then processed and sold fresh fillets to distributors in the Northeast, resulting in over 1 million pounds of sales. Started a new venture called Portland Shellfish Sales, Inc. in Maine producing crab. Considered a pioneer. In the Red Crab fishery business, starting a vertically integrated fishing and production operation that was unique to the fishery and the only one of its kind in the US. Has been involved in several other types of crab and lobster sales.