Did Shrimp Farms in Myanmar (Burma)
On May 2, 2008, at 6:30 in the evening, Cyclone Nargis hit the Irrawaddy Delta with winds of 120 miles per hour, killing as many as 100,000 people and devastating one of the most productive rice producing areas in the world.
On May 12, 2008, The Current, a radio show that’s part of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, carried a show about mangroves and shrimp farming in the Irrawaddy Delta. In it, Anna Maria Tremonti interviewed Alfredo Quarto, the executive director of the Mangrove Action Project, and Dr. Stephen Newman, a microbiologist and president of Aqua-In-Tech, a company that works with shrimp farmers around the world. Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Anna Maria Tremonti: Cyclone Nargis is being called one of the worst national disasters ever to hit Asia, and anger is growing as the country’s military junta continues to hinder the distribution of emergency aid. The Irrawaddy Delta was once home to mangroves, dense forests that grow along the coast of much of Southeast Asia. For decades those forests have been in decline, decimated to make room for shrimp farms and rice paddies, or to harvest wood. Burma has lost almost all of its mangroves over the last 70 to 85 years, and Alfredo Quarto says that means higher death tolls from hurricanes and cyclones. Mr. Quarto, can you describe what a mangrove forest looks like?
Alfredo Quarto: It’s a coastal wetland. Mangroves are very lush forests and very productive in their bio-diversity; they really are special. They protect the shoreline from storms and erosion, which is very important, and they provide a nursery for fish, so they are very vital.
Anna Maria Tremonti: Why have the mangroves in Burma been destroyed? Where did they go?
Alfredo Quarto: During the British colonial rule, they were cut down to make way for rice paddies. The Irrawaddy Delta was once considered the rice bowl of the world. Later the mangroves were cut down to create communities and to build fish and shrimp farms.
Anna Maria Tremonti: Why do they have to cut down mangroves to build shrimp farms?
Alfredo Quarto: Mangroves are open lands that have not been impacted by development, so they’re easy to access, inexpensive to develop, and close to saltwater from the ocean and freshwater from the land, which makes brackish water happen. That’s what the shrimp farms need, brackish water. No one there really protests the development of shrimp farms, and a lot of time they are put in illegally. Shrimp farmers clear the mangrove trees and dig ponds, which are a half-acre to an acre, or more. The ponds only last a few years before they run into problems with pollution and disease, and then they close these ponds down and basically leave a wasteland behind.
Anna Maria Tremonti: Has the destruction of the mangroves accelerated under the generals of Myanmar?
Alfredo Quarto: We’ve heard stories that the generals of Myanmar are actually getting some income from the sale of shrimp and other types of activities like logging. So, yes, some of the income from the destruction of the mangroves is helping to fuel the government’s economy and some of the shrimp are being sold to the USA, Canada and Europe, illegally, because there are sanctions against products from Burma. We shouldn’t be buying those shrimp. The shrimp are transshipped to Thailand and Bangladesh, and the labels are changed so that they don’t show the country of origin. Information: Alfredo Quarto, Mangrove Action Project, P.O. Box 1854, Port Angeles, WA 98362 USA (phone/fax 360-452-5866, email email@example.com, webpage http://www.mangroveactionproject.org).
Anna Maria Tremonti: The charge that shrimp farms are the primary cause of the destruction of the mangrove forests is not universally accepted. Stephen Newman is a microbiologist and president of Aqua-In-Tech, a company that works with shrimp farmers around the world. Mr. Newman, what’s your reaction to the assertion that shrimp farms and the lack of mangroves has contributed the destruction in Burma?
Stephen Newman: If you take a close look at Burma, most of the damage was in the Irrawaddy River Delta, and there are actually very few shrimp farms in that area. Seventy five percent of the shrimp farms in Burma are located along the Arakan coast, which is just south of Bangladesh, so Mr. Quarto’s assertion that this particular event was made worse by the presence of shrimp farms is not correct.
Anna Maria Tremonti: How do you describe the impact that shrimp farming has had on the mangrove forests?
Stephen Newman: There’s not doubt that there are areas in the world where historically mangroves have been cut down to make shrimp farms. And there’s no doubt that it continues to occur, but to a much lesser extent than it has in the past. Shrimp farms are often built in areas where there are poor people, and poor people will take advantage of whatever opportunities there are to make money. Building shrimp farms in mangroves is not a very smart thing to do. Cutting down mangroves results in acidic soils and acidic soils don’t sustain shrimp farms. The vast majority of shrimp farmers would not even consider using areas with acidic soils to produce shrimp.
Anna Maria Tremonti: So you think that shrimp farming has no part in the destruction of the mangrove forests.
Stephen Newman: I did not say that. What I’m saying is that shrimp farming has much less of an impact than what organizations like the Mangrove Action Project say.
Anna Maria Tremonti: Tell us a little about your organization. What service do you provide to shrimp farms?
Stephen Newman: I work with shrimp and fish farms in various capacities. I help them improve their production, and I advise financial institutions about the feasibility of projects.
Anna Maria Tremonti: Do the mangrove restoration projects that are underway get in the way of shrimp farming projects in developing countries? Is there a clash there?
Stephen Newman: There has been some environmental damage from inappropriately placing shrimp farms in mangroves, but if you look at the overall picture, especially in Burma, you’ll discover that the British cut down the mangroves, built polders, which are dams to keep the land dry, and put in 600,000 hectares of rice paddies. Although I laud the fact that there are organizations out there that are restoring vital mangroves, I don’t think they need to do this by pointing their finger and saying that shrimp farmers everywhere are guilty of cutting down mangroves in order to produce their product.
Anna Maria Tremonti: So the mangrove issue is a separate issue from shrimp farming.
Stephen Newman: As far as I’m concerned, yes. Information: Stephen G. Newman, Ph.D., President, Aqua-In-Tech, Inc., 6722 162nd Place SW, Lynnwood, WA 98037 USA (phone 425-787-5218, fax 425-741-0857, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, webpage http://www.aqua-in-tech.com).
Shrimp News: You can listen to the full interview at http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2008/200805/20080512.html. Scroll to the bottom of the page and then click on the little red triangle after the words “Listen to Part Three”.
Source: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The Current. Mangroves. Anna Maria Tremonti. May 12, 2008.
Fifth Crustacean Conference—Buckup
The Fifth Brazilian Crustaceans Congress will be held in Gramado, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, on November 10–13, 2008. The scientific program at the Congress will cover all of the major disciplines of carcinology, including morphology, physiology, ecology, biology, systematics, taxonomy—and farming. Submit Papers and posters to the address below.
Information: Professor Ludwig Buckup, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Instituto de Biociências, Department de Zoologia Pós-Graduação em Biologia-Animal, Av. Bento Gonçalves 9500, Prédio 43435, Sala 219 CEP 91501-970 Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil (phone + 55-51-3308-7699, email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Source: The Crust-L mailing list (To subscribe, send an email to LISTPROC@VIMS.EDU. In the body of the email, put SUBSCRIBE CRUST-L). Subject: V Brazilian Crustacean Congress. May 9, 2008.
Aqua 2008 Conference
AQUA 2008, the Tenth Ecuadorian Aquaculture Conference and Trade Show, will be held at a new convention center in Guayaquil on October 6–9, 2008. For information in English and Spanish, including information on the program, speakers (with pictures and résumés), trade show, hotels, tourism and registration (online), go to http://www.cna-ecuador.com/aquaexpo/eindex.html.
Here’s a list of some the papers from the shrimp farming session:
Shrimp Culture in Venezuela Before and After the Taura Virus (Mario Aguirre, Schering-Plough, Venezuela)
Potential Impact of the Rise in Sea Level on the Shrimp Farming Sector in Ecuador (María del Pilar Cornejo, Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, Ecuador)
High Protein Concentrates and Their Use in Aquaculture (Allen Davis, American Soybean Association, USA)
Global Situation of the Shrimp Farming Industry: Production, Markets and Perspectives (Darryl Jory, Global Aquaculture Alliance, USA)
Use of Plant Ingredients and Animal By-Products to Reduce Fish Meal in Shrimp Feeds (Addison Lawrence, Texas A&M University, USA)
New Diseases in Cultured Shrimp (Donald Lightner, University de Arizona, USA)
Necrotizing Hepatopancreatitis and Gregarines in México—Two High Prevalence Diseases in Shrimp Culture (María Soledad Morales, Centro de Investigación en Alimentos y Desarrollo, México)
Environmental Analysis of Shrimp Farming in Ecuador from a Life Cycle Perspective (Angel Ramírez, Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, Ecuador)
Asian Threat—What to Expect in the Coming Years (Patrick Sorgeloos, University of Gent, Belgium)
Treatments to Stimulate the Immune System of Penaeus vannamei during Larviculture, Nursery and Growout (Jenny Rodríguez, Fundación CENAIM-ESPOL, Ecuador)
Impact of Climate Change on the Availability of Fish Meal (Roland Wiefels, INFOPESCA, Uruguay)
Shrimp Trials in Floating Cages with Different Stocking Densities (Martha Zarain, Centro de Ciencias de Sinaloa, México)
Information: Niza Cely, Camara Nacional de Acuicultura (webpage http://www.cna-ecuador.com, email email@example.com, phone +593-4-268-3017, extension 202); and Camila Parra, Fundación CENAIM/ESPOL (webpage http://www.cenaim.espol.edu.ec, email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone +593-4-2269-494).
Source: Email to Shrimp News International from CENAIM. Subject: AQUA2008: Llamada a Presentación de Trabajos/Call for Papers. May 12, 2008.
European Union Lifts Import Inspections on Shrimp
Beginning in June 2008, the European Union will no longer reexamine imports of shrimp from Indonesia, a process that cost Indonesian shrimp exporters $8,000 per container. In the future, a sample will be taken from every 20 containers at no charge. Martani Husaini, director general of production and marketing in the fishery ministry, said that Indonesian exporters have met all the food safety requirements of the European Union and that his country’s products would now move into European markets much faster without having to wait in line for inspection.
Source: Seafood.com (an online, subscription-based, fisheries news service). EU confirms it is lifting restriction on fishery product imports from Indonesia. Ken Coons (phone 781-861-1441, email email@example.com). Editor and Publisher, John Sackton (phone 781-861-1441, email firstname.lastname@example.org). May 14, 2008.
Problems with Chinese Vannamei Cause Thai Vannamei Prices to Rise
Japan’s imports of Penaeus vannamei from China, which had been growing at a rapid rate, have slowed because of a series of scandals related to Chinese food. Consequently, Japan’s imports of P. vannamei from Thailand are increasing, but at high prices—over $7 per kilogram for head-off 31/40s. Japanese buyers are resisting these prices because they think prices will drop 10 to 20 percent in June and July 2008 when Thai harvests reach their peak, although they predict they will probably be 20% higher than a year ago because many shrimp farmers in Thailand are shifting to rice farming.
Source: Seafood.com (an online, subscription-based, fisheries news service). Thai vannamei prices strong, may remain so as reduced china shipments, more rice production affects.... Editor and Publisher, John Sackton (phone 781-861-1441, email email@example.com). May 13, 2008.
Wanted—Help with Shrimp Farming
In the Maldive Islands, officially the Republic of Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, we have 120 resorts and 50 hotels, and all of them serve imported shrimp. We don’t have any shrimp farms. I have a pond, but need a partner with money and information on how to get started in shrimp farming.
Source: Emails to Shrimp News International from Mohamed Faheem (firstname.lastname@example.org) on May 10 and 11, 2008.
The five states in the Irrawaddy Delta that were hit by Cyclone Nargis have 80% of the country’s fish ponds and 26% of its shrimp ponds.
Source: ReliefWeb. Burma–What is the current situation? May 8, 2008.
New Shrimp Hatchery
The Philippine government has approved the development of a multipurpose hatchery for fish, crabs, prawns and shrimp in the province of Sulu, an island province between the southern island of Mindanao and the Malaysian province of Sabah.
Source: MindaNews. Sulu Marine Resources Development Bill Approved. Leila Asani Halud. May 11, 2008.
Shrimp Imports During the First Quarter of 2008
The volume of USA shrimp imports fell in the first quarter of 2008, continuing a trend that began in 2007. With the drop in volume, however, prices turned upward, pushing average prices to the highest level in two years.
The drop in import volume for the first three months of the year was small, falling only 1.9% from the previous year to 273 million pounds. That compares to the 278.2 million pounds for the first quarter of 2007 and 274.7 million pounds in 2006.
The drop in volume, however, was most pronounced during March 2008, the last month of the first quarter, dropping 9% from the previous year to 76.9 million pounds, back to the import levels in 2006.
During the first quarter of 2008, the average price of imported shrimp rose 3.3%, hitting $3.16 a pound, up from $3.06 in 2007 and $3.13 in 2006.
Because of the decline in the value of the dollar, the USA is no longer the most attractive market for shrimp anymore, and suppliers are moving product elsewhere. Through the first quarter, seven out of the top ten shrimp suppliers saw shipments to the USA drop. Thailand, the top supplier of shrimp to the USA during the first quarter of 2007, saw its shipments fall 11.9% in the first quarter of 2008, hitting only 77.1 million pounds. Shipments from China continue to drop. In the first quarter of 2007, China was the number two supplier to the USA, but in the first quarter of 2008, it fell to number four.
Indonesia had the strongest growth in shipments to the USA, up 65.6% in the first quarter of 2008 to 45.7 million pounds, and Vietnam’s exports to the USA grew 45% to 19 million pounds in the first quarter. Among suppliers from South America, Ecuador’s exports dropped by 8.7%, Mexico’s by 5.9% and Guyana’s by 3.5%.
Source: Seafood Trend Newsletter (independent coverage of the seafood market since 1984, 8227 Ashworth Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98103-4434 USA, phone 206-523-2280, fax 206-526-8719, email email@example.com). Editor, Ken Talley. May 12, 2008.
Scientific Associates LLC has a job opening for an aquaculture technician.
Location: Indiantown, Florida.
Salary: Commensurate with experience. Benefits after a three-month qualification period.
Closing Date: June 6, 2008.
Qualifications: Two years of experience working in an aquaculture facility or a two-year degree in an aquaculture related field. Must be able to work flexible hours, including weekends. Should be able to lift 50 pounds. Construction skills considered a plus. References required.
Description: Scientific Associates LLC is a startup, ultra-intensive, indoor, recirculating shrimp farm. As the company expands its production, technicians will assist in the construction of new facilities.
Information: Steve Massar (phone 772-597-1101, email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Source: AquaNic (The Aquaculture Network Information Center, a gateway to the world’s electronic aquaculture resources. Jobs Directory, type in the word “shrimp”), in cooperation with the WAS Employment Service. Aquaculture Technician. Date Posted, May 20, 2008.
Massachusetts—Aqua Bounty Narrows Loss
London (Thomson Financial)...Aqua Bounty Technologies, Inc., a public biotechnology company focused on the development and marketing of health and therapeutic products for shrimp farming, reported a narrower 2007 net loss than in 2006. Aqua Bounty said it completed an operational review that is expected to result in savings of about $2 million in 2009. The cost of implementing the results of the review will limit savings in 2008, but expenses and cash usage are expected to be lower than in 2007.
For the year ended December 31, 2007, Aqua Bounty posted a net loss of $6.85 million compared with $8.06 million in 2006. It reported interest income of $1.02 million in 2007 against an interest loss of $141,878 in 2006. In 2007, its revenues declined to $292,088 from $642,681 in 2006 because there were no new sales and its research grant from the National Institute of Science and Technologies ended.
Source: Forbes. Aqua Bounty Tech posts narrower FY net loss; sees limited cost savings in 2008. Thompson Financial News (tf.TFN-Europe_newsdesk@thomsonreuters.com). May 14, 2008.
Utah—Brine Shrimp and Mercury Levels
A new study by the USA Geological Survey says that elevated mercury levels in the Great Salt Lake might be harming brine shrimp (Artemia) and the birds that feed on them. The study says the amount of mercury found in eared grebes (birds) increases during periods when they dine heavily on the lake’s brine shrimp, but that it’s unclear how much lasting damage the mercury is causing. That will be the focus of another study expected to be completed early in 2009.
Source: The Salt Lake Tribune. Mercury in birds rises when they eat shrimp. The Associated Press. May 11, 2008.
Ca Mau Province
Ca Mau Province has approximately 140,000 shrimp farmers and 250,000 hectares of shrimp ponds that have already produced 100,000 metric tons of shrimp in 2008.
The province is increasing its production of disease-free postlarvae. Ngo Hoang Son, head of Ca Mau Province’s Aquatic Animal Health Bureau, said the rise in production has helped reduce shrimp disease. The province’s 842 hatcheries produce about six billion postlarvae a year, meeting only 50 percent of the demand from shrimp farmers. Farmers import the other 50 percent from other provinces, which often supply poor quality postlarvae. Only 30-40 percent of the shrimp from other provinces survive during growout. Ca Mau hopes to produce 90 percent of its postlarvae in the future. The provincial authorities have provided incentives for hatcheries, including tax reductions, preferential loans and new farming technology.
Currently, hatcheries are using broodstock captured off the coast of Ca Mau, but hope to set up cooperative maturation facilities that supply disease-free broodstock to hatcheries.
Source: VietnamNews. Ca Mau farmers battle epidemics with disease-free breeder shrimp. May 13, 2008.
Weak USA Economy Hurts Shrimp Exports
Tran Van Pham, general director of Soc Trang Seafood Joint Stock Company (STAPIMEX), one of the country’s leading shrimp exporters said that since the middle of 2007, the USA economy has been struggling and is on the brink of falling into recession, negatively affecting Vietnam’s seafood exports, especially shrimp, a high-end product in the USA. In addition, the decline in the value of the dollar, a shortage of investment capital, a drop in shrimp production and inconsistent quality have affected shrimp exports.
With bank loans pegged at 1.5 percent a month or higher and non-bank loans at 3 to 5 percent per month, shrimp farmers can’t afford to borrow money.
Although Penaeus vannamei has been approved for farming in the Mekong Delta, farmers struggle to find quality postlarvae and some are importing it from China. The seafood sector plans to build a network of hatcheries and suppliers in each region and then monitor the health and quality of the product.
Source: VietnamNetBridge. Seafood exports grow steadily. May 11, 2008.
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