Wild fish, farmed fish, genetically modified Frankenfish –get ready for seafood grown directly from cells. But there is no head, tail, no bones or blood. National Public Radio calls it fish “without the swimming and breathing part. It’s seafood without the sea.”

In fact, it is sheets of whole fish fillets grown from a needle biopsy’s worth of muscle cells from a single fish.  The cells are cultivated and fed a blend of liquid vitamins, amino acids and sugars. The resulting fillets can be sold fresh or frozen or made into various seafood dishes.

A San Diego based company called BlueNalu is pioneering the cellular aquaculture as one of six companies focused on cell-based seafood with sights set on those that can’t easily be farmed. Finless Foods is focused on blue fin tuna; and NPR said a company called Wild Type is working on cell-based salmon. All are likely five to 10 years away from having actual product on the market.

The companies point out cell-growing uses no genetic tweaking, nor does it introduce anything new that doesn’t already exist in nature.

BlueNalu said it is not looking to replace wild or farm-raised seafood, and instead, offer a third alternative.



But the fledgling industry is poking at some tender spots: illegal and overfishing, climate impacts, bycatch and food waste.

And as a sign of the times, they note that cell-grown seafood is free from antibiotics and pesticides used in fish farms, potential ocean contaminants and micro particles of plastics.

Referring to the more than 3.2 billion people globally who depend on seafood for at least part of their protein, a spokesman said “Catch, grow or make it, I’m not even sure we’ll be able to meet demand.”

Undercurrent News reports BlueNalu is seeded with $4.5 million in startup funds from a private venture fund called New Crop Capital whose mission is ‘funding the future of food.’