Atlantic Aqua Farms has a new owner.

The P.E.I. business, one of the largest growers of live mussels in the country, is now part of the assets of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. It had previously been owned by San Francisco-based Encore Consumer Capital.

The purchase marks Ontario Teachers’ first venture into the realm of aquaculture, and falls under its natural resources mandate to invest in the global food basket, with an eye on sustainable sources of food production.

“Demand for protein is increasing, and in the context of land constraints and environmental considerations, aquaculture is among the most sustainable sources to meet this demand,” says Andrew Claerhout, senior managing director for the fund’s infrastructure and natural resources. “Atlantic Aqua Farms has built a significant aquaculture platform, underscoring the significant opportunities for long-term growth in this space.”

Atlantic Aqua Farms has been supplying North American consumers with its Canadian Cove brand mussels for more than 25 years. Headquartered in Orwell Cove, the company is the largest grower and processor of the widely-recognized Prince Edward Island blue mussels under the brand names Canadian Cove, Confederation Cove and J.P.’s Shellfish. It also offers a wide selection of branded oysters, clams, and live Maine and Canadian lobster.

“The team at Atlantic Aqua Farms is excited to be part of the Ontario Teachers’ global portfolio of companies and honored to be their first seafood acquisition,” says Terry Ennis, CEO of Atlantic Aqua Farms. “Ontario Teachers’ is a leader in environmental stewardship, corporate governance, and social responsibility. With the benefit of Ontario Teachers’ vision and leadership, we look forward to many more years of continued sustainable growth in the aquaculture sector as we strive to be market leaders in everything we do.”

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is Canada’s largest single-profession pension plan, with CAD$180.5 billion in net assets as of June 30.