March 3, 2006
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A Big Blue Barn in
Russ Allen's Backyard
On November 28, 2005, WKAR.org, the public radio station in East Lansing, Michigan, broadcast a nice report on Russ Allen's small, indoor shrimp farm in Okemos, Michigan.
Here's a transcript of the four-minute story, reported by Erin Toner:
Erin Toner: In a big blue barn in Russ Allen's backyard, there are thousands of shrimp, beady-eyed, bacteria-munching, bottom feeders. Here the life cycle of the shrimp starts in a breeding center, where two big tanks mimic a place 150 feet deep in the ocean, where the water quality and temperature are stable. Allen says it's the perfect environment for shrimp to mate.
Russ Allen: Like in just about all animals, the male chases the female. They do a little courtship dance and the male deposits the spermatophore on the female. Then when she spawns, the eggs pass through the spermatophore, get fertilized and go out into the water.
Erin Toner: A few months later, the shrimp wind up in the production room, where all they do is eat, and sometimes, if they get excited or spooked, they jump right out of their tanks. [Giggling as though a shrimp just jumped out of a tank in front of her.] Have your ever had one hit you as you were standing here?
Russ Allen: Oh yeah. That's why we have the nets up.
Erin Toner: Russ Allen has been farming shrimp for three decades. He started in Ecuador and then went to Belize, where he started some of the countries' first shrimp farms. Allen and his wife moved back to Michigan when he started designing his indoor shrimp farm. It finally opened for business about a year ago and now he's selling all the shrimp that it produces.
Allen says his indoor shrimp farm is one of the first of its kind in the world. There's no waste leaving his farm so pollution is not an issue, and because there is no water coming in or out, there is no danger of introducing diseases into his system. Allen says an indoor shrimp farm also moves shrimp farming away from fragile coastal ecosystems. That's where most of the industry has developed around the world.
Russ Allen: In a place like the United States with all the coastal development and the land costs, you can't really do it next to the ocean anyway. So if you're going to have a viable shrimp farming system in the United States, you need to move it away from coastal areas.
Erin Toner: But indoor farms haven't always been a viable option either. In the 1980s, a handful of them opened in the United States, including a big one in Chicago. They all failed because the technology did not work quite right and because the cost of production made them unable to compete with outdoor farms.
Bill More is a shrimp farming consultant and vice president of the Aquaculture Certification Council. He says now indoor shrimp farmers have a better chance of making a go of it.
Bill More: Coming from the third world countries, there have been a lot of issues with illegal antibiotics in shrimp. There have been environmental and social issues. The environmentalists have come down hard on the industry, creating an opportunity for a good indoor system that would not harm the environment.
Erin Toner: But More says that creating and maintaining a clean organic, indoor shrimp farm is very expensive. And seems an even bigger problem now that the price of shrimp is the lowest it's been in a decade. Shrimp farmer Russ Allen says that he's invested several million dollars in his business. He's the only guy in the game right now, which he admits is good for business, but Allen doesn't want it that way. He says he would like to see the industry grow in Michigan and throughout the country.
Russ Allen: In order to do that, the government has got to be a partner in it. When you don't have an industry, when you don't have lobbyists, nobody listens to you. You can't start an industry until they do listen to you, so that's been a real challenge right now.
Erin Toner: Allen says he wants the government to offer tax breaks and other financial assistance to aquaculture the way it does to other sectors of the economy. But he says he can't even get some local officials to come see his shrimp farm. He says with so many companies moving jobs and factories oversees, he thinks government leaders should be looking for ways to help new and perhaps unconventional industries like his grow.
Information: Russell Allen, Aquatic Design, Ltd., 3450 Meridian Road, Okemos, MI 48863 USA (phone 517-347-5537, fax 517-347-4999, email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Source: WKAR.org (public radio station in Lansing, Michigan, USA). Okemos entrepreneur raises shrimp (http://www.wkar.org/morningedition/story.php?storyid=839). Erin Toner. November 28, 2005.
Belize Aquaculture, Ltd., a Real Powerhouse
In December 2005, Finland's Wärtsilä Corporation (below) was awarded a $19-million contract to construct a power plant for Belize Aquaculture, Ltd., one of the most advanced shrimp farms in the world!
The power plant will have three 18-cylinder Wärtsilä 32 diesel generating sets, all running on heavy fuel oil. Due for delivery in November 2006, it will be installed at the company's shrimp farm in the Stann Creek District of Belize. It will supply electricity to the shrimp farm and processing plant. It will have full waste heat recovery systems to generate steam to be used both for fuel heating and for various uses in the processing plant.
Wärtsilä provides environmentally compatible power solutions. It has more than 12,000 professionals manning 130 Wärtsilä offices in over 60 countries.
Information: Maria Nystrand, Public Relations Manager, Power Plants, Wärtsilä, Finland (phone +358-10-709-1456, fax +358-10-709-1425, email email@example.com, webpage www.wartsila.com).
Source: KauppalehtiOnline (Finland's leading business information provider, newspapers). Press Release: Wärtsilä power for Belize shrimp farming (http://www.kauppalehti.fi/4/i/eng/releases/press_release.jsp?selected=hex&oid=20060201/11405134618070&lang=EN). February 21, 2006.
In 2004, Iran produced an estimated 8,000 metric tons of farmed shrimp. In 2005, because of a whitespot outbreak, production dropped to 2,400 tons. In Bushehr Province, the center of production and the province hit the hardest by whitespot, production dropped from 7,000 tons to 400 tons.
Source: MEHRNEWS (The Mehr News Agency, an emphasis on Iran and the rest of the Islamic world). Economic news in brief: Shrimp production slumps to 2400 tons (http://www.mehrnews.ir/en/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=291222). FK/ER. February 15, 2006.
In 2005, Peru produced 7,200 tons of farmed shrimp, up 40 percent from 2004. On February 12, 2006, Peruvian shrimp farmers announced they would invest $9 million in the industry in 2006. Currently, Peru has 3,200 hectares of traditional semi-intensive shrimp ponds and 100 hectares intensive ponds, of which 70 hectares are covered with greenhouses. Intensive farms produced about 25 percent of the country's output in 2005!
Source: Seafood.com (an online, subscription-based, fisheries news service). Peru farmed shrimp association plans $9 million expansion in 2006. Editor and Publisher, John Sackton (phone 781-861-1441, email firstname.lastname@example.org). February 14, 2006.
First Crop of Freshwater Prawns
The Krasnodar region of southwestern Russia, on the Black Sea, has harvested its first crop of freshwater prawns.
Source: CEE-FoodIndustry.com (breaking news on food in Central and Eastern Europe). Giant shrimps settle in Russia (http://www.cee-foodindustry.com/news/printNewsBis.asp?id=65623). February 6, 2006.
Union Frozen Products
On February 27, 2006, thirteen shrimp companies, including farms, feed producers and exporters, announced the formation of the "Integrated Shrimp Business Operation" (ISBO), which plans to export high-quality shrimp and ensure its safety from farm to importer. In the initial stages, ISBO will work with three shrimp-farming cooperatives on a contract basis and produce 1,000 tons from 20 hectares of ponds. Union Frozen Products (UFP), which processes and markets frozen seafood and ready-to-eat meals, appears to be leading the group of thirteen companies.
Source: Bangkok Post (English language newspaper, Bangkok, Thailand). Agribusiness Shrimp and Poultry: Shrimpers unite to meet high standards (http://www.bangkokpost.com/Business/28Feb2006_biz45.php). Phusadee Arunmas. February 28, 2006.
New JerseyEpicore Reports Profits
Epicore BioNetworks, Inc., which produces shrimp hatchery feeds, probiotics, enzymes and vitamin and mineral concentrates, says sales in the second quarter of 2006 were 100% higher than a year earlier ($504,600 versus $251,600). Gross margin increased from $169,100 to $373,700. Expenses at $304,300 were 5% above last year. The Company recorded a net income of $61,100 versus a net loss of $120,500 last year. Net income (loss) per share for the current quarter was $0.003 versus ($0.005) last year. Historically, the second quarter is the company's weakest.
In the Western Hemisphere, Epicore had strong sales in Mexico, Venezuela and Ecuador. Sales in Asia increased 65% compared to the second quarter of 2004. Asian sales were dominated by sales in India, where Epicore has an excellent distributor, and in Thailand, where its algae growth media is a big success.
Epicore BioNetworks, Inc., is a public corporation with a registered office in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and with shares listed on the TSX Venture Exchange (symbol EBN).
Information: Mr. William P. Long, Epicore BioNetworks, Inc. (609-267-9118).
Source: CNW Group (Canadian News Wire, news and information in Canada). Epicore 2006 Second Quarter Results for the period ended 31 December 2005; currency in US Dollars (http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/February2006/24/c0343.html). February 24, 2006.
NaturalShrimp International, which spent five years and $3 million developing its business plan, is harvesting its first crop of Pacific white shrimp (Penaeus vannamei).
"Fresh shrimp to local markets on a daily basis, that's our concept," company President Gerald Easterling said from the firm's "international headquarters," a doublewide trailer that holds offices, a laboratory and a not-yet-operational shrimp larvae nursery. Easterling predicts that by late 2006, when the first 25,000-gallon raceway is supplemented with four more, harvests will hit three tons of shrimp a week and sell for $6 a pound and up. "It's tricky," said Doug Ernst, a biosource engineering specialist who consulted on the project before joining the company in 2005, "We're tracking 100 variables and 100 procedures."
Source: MySA.com (San Antonio, Texas, USA, online site of the Express-News and KENS5). Seafood without the sea (http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA021606.01B.shrimp_farm.17f788d6.html). Zeke MacCormack (email@example.com). February 16, 2006.
We are looking for someone to run a Penaeus vannamei hatchery on the Península de Paraguana, in Venezuela. We're just south of the island of Aruba (Netherlands, Caribbean Sea). We produce over 100 million PLs a month and have a maturation facility that holds 3,000 brooders. We can produce 1,000 broodstock a month, 50 metric tons of algae a day, and we have a PCR lab. Please respond to Giovanni Chasin (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Source: The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers, "email@example.com"). Subject: [shrimp] looking for Hatchery Manager to work in Venezuela. From: firstname.lastname@example.org. February 21, 2006.
Bickering between the United States and Venezuela could impact the shrimp farming industry. In mid-February 2006, a shrimp industry spokesman said Venezuela might have to shut down its shrimp farming industry because of a shortage of imported feed ingredients, like fishmeal and oil. He said three plants had already closed because they were out of raw materials and could not get import permits for more. They blamed officials at the National Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture, INAPESCA, for not supplying the necessary import permits. But INAPESCA says that's not true, claiming that one of the companies that shut down has two valid import permits that it's not using.
Source: Seafood.com (an online, subscription-based, fisheries news service). Reports of Problems in Venezuela's shrimp sector. Editor and Publisher, John Sackton (phone 781-861-1441, email email@example.com). February 15, 2006.
Processors Import Shrimp from China and India
Some shrimp processors in the Mekong Delta have imported shrimp from India and China because of a shortage of local product. Over the 2005/2006 winter, many Delta farmers chose to let their ponds lie fallow. The passing of the monsoon during this period makes it difficult to turn a profit, and low shrimp prices make the gamble riskier than ever. So, for the first time, processors in the Delta got caught with no product in early 2006.
Source: Seafood.com (an online, subscription-based, fisheries news service). Vietnamese seafood exporters forced to import shrimp. Ken Coons. Editor and Publisher, John Sackton (phone 781-861-1441, email firstname.lastname@example.org). February 16, 2006.
In 2006, Vietnam will spend $438,000 to establish Vietnamese shrimp brands in Japan and the United States.
Source: Vietnam Economy (news online from the Vietnam Economic Times). Shrimp exporters map strategies (http://www.vneconomy.com.vn/eng/?param=article&catid=08&id=519bf82147ead9). February 24, 2006.
New Shrimp Breeding Centers
An aquatic breeding and research center will be built at a total cost of $457,000 in the Duc Pho District of central Quang Ngai Province by Hong Kong-based Aqualive Asia, Co., Ltd.
Source: VNA (Vietnam News Agency, government). Aquatic breeding and research centre to be built in Quang Ngai (http://www.vnagency.com.vn/newsA.asp?LANGUAGE_ID=2&CATEGORY_ID=30&NEWS_ID=187697). February 23, 2006.
Shrimp Die en Masse
Weather changes have decimated stocks of shrimp at almost half the farms in Vietnam's southern Ca Mau province. Some 97,000 hectares, accounting for 40% of the province's ponds, have been massively damaged, wiping out up to 80% of the stocks, Pham Van Duc, director of the Ca Mau Fisheries Department, said. Weather changes altered pond temperatures, acidity and salinity, leading to stressed-out animals that were susceptible to disease.
Source: ThanhNienNews.com (the flagship publication of the Vietnam National Youth Federation). Mekong farmers, processors hit as shrimp die en masse (http://www.thanhniennews.com/society/?catid=3&newsid=12953). Reported by Thanh Trang and translated by Ngoc Hanh. February 23, 2006.