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Friday, August 27, 2010

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Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Lab

Largest Commercial-Scale Shrimp Farming Research Facility in the USA


In the mid-1980s, the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory began looking at the potential of shrimp farming in the United States.  Its research  started with growout trials in earthen ponds, but diseases became a constant problem.  The solution: the indoor, closed, biosecure system that GCRL is currently using.  It was commissioned in 2004, damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and rebuilt in 2007.


It’s the largest commercial-scale shrimp farm research and development site in the United States.  Scientists at the facility are working to find the most economical and environmentally friendly way to farm shrimp.


On August 10, 2010, The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory harvested approximately 3,000 pounds of shrimp (25 to 30 count) from eight raceways (100 feet long, 11 feet wide and 30 inches deep).


Jeff Lotz, chairman of the University of Southern Mississippi’s Department of Coast Sciences and director of the marine aquaculture program at GCRL, said the USA spends about $4 billion on imported shrimp every year.  He thinks a USA shrimp farming industry would go a long way toward eliminating that deficit.  “What we are trying to do is research at the level that makes sense to do a commercial facility.”  He and his fellow researchers hope to harvest about 500 pounds of shrimp per tank every 13 weeks, which is the minimal production for a commercial facility.  “The issue is the cost.  It probably costs $5 to $6 a pound and that’s not counting the value of the building.  ...We think a system like this in five years could produce 12,000-pound crops four times a year,” said Lotz


Another selling point for a USA shrimp farming industry: locally produced shrimp could be marketed fresh and extensively tested for purity and safety.  Frozen imported shrimp can be six months old, or older, by the time it gets to the consumer and very little of it gets tested when it comes into the United States.


Andrew Ray, a doctoral student and research assistant on the project, pointed out that all of GCRL’s shrimp tanks recycle their water.  “We don’t want to have to go to the bayou and get water.  The...closed water system is important, especially in light of the recent oil spill.  It’s even more reason to recycle water.  ...You could do this [raise shrimp] outside Chicago and you would have fresh shrimp year-round in Chicago, which is unheard of,” Ray said.


GCRL researchers are also hoping to raise brown shrimp (Penaeus aztecus) for the live bait market.  Lotz said the aquaculture research at GCRL includes crabs, sea trout, cobia, striped bass and red snapper.


Information: Jeffrey M. Lotz, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Coastal Sciences, Ecology and Epidemiology of Parasites and Pathogens, Marine Aquaculture, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, 703 East Beach Drive, Ocean Springs, Mississippi 39564, USA (phone 1-228-872-4247, email jeff.lotz@usm.edu).


Sources: 1. GulfLive.com.  GCRL Harvests about 3,000 Pounds of Shrimp Raised in Tanks.  Harlan Kirgan (writer and photographer).  August 11, 2010.  2. CNBC.com.  Gulf Coast Lab Harvests Its Largest Shrimp Crop.  Associated Press.  August 11, 2010.



Country Reports


Leopard Capital Leaping into Shrimp Farming


In May 2010, Leopard Capital, a private equity fund, took a 31.5 percent equity stake in Nautisco Seafood, Cambodia’s largest seafood company.  Together, they hope to stimulate the growth of shrimp farming in Cambodia.  Initially, Nautisco will process wild-caught shrimp for export, but since that supply is limited, it will have to look elsewhere for shrimp.  Sam Peou, CEO of Nautisco, said, “I’m working with other investors to initiate the first multi-million-dollar, super-intensive, shrimp farm in Cambodia.  ...Currently, we have approximately 350 employees, and we’re in the process of going up to 500-750 employees by the end of this year or early 2011.”


Douglas Clayton, CEO and founder of Leopard Capital, said, “In the past, the constraint [to shrimp farming] was not having a processor.”  Nautisco’s growth plans change all of that.  He said, “Cambodia has cheap land that is suitable for shrimp farms and cheap labor.  Eventually, someone will get set up to manufacture feed.  One by one, the necessary components will come into place.  ...I think it is just a matter of time before shrimp farming gets off the ground.”


The current Nautisco processing plant can handle up to 30 metric tons a day, or just under 8,000 metric tons a year, said Scott Lewis, one of the managing partners at Leopard.  That translates into 5,600 metric tons of finished product.


Source: Boletin Informativo (Ecuador’s Cámara Nacional de Acuacultura).  Editor, Jorge Tejada (jtejada@cna-ecuador.com).  Private Equity Bets on Cambodia Shrimp Growth.  August 9, 2010.



La Niña Gaining Strength and Encouraging Hurricanes!


Nearly all computer models predict that the current La Niña will persist through early 2011.  There is, however, disagreement among the models over her eventual strength.  Most dynamic models forecast a moderate-to-strong La Niña, while the majority of the statistical modes forecast a weaker episode.  Given the strong cooling observed over the last several months and the apparent ocean-atmosphere coupling, the dynamical forecast of a moderate-to-strong episode is favored at this time.  Therefore, La Niña conditions are expected to strengthen and last through Northern Hemisphere Winter 2010-2011.


La Niña can contribute to increased Atlantic hurricane activity by decreasing the vertical wind shear over the Caribbean Sea and tropical Atlantic Ocean.


Source: Climate Prediction Center.  El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion (a downloadable PDF or Word file).  August 5, 2010.



Rears Monkey River Prawn


Starting with eggs from wild animals, researchers at the University of South Pacific have successfully reared the Monkey River prawn (Macrobrachium lar) through its 13 larval stages.  Indigenous to several Pacific Islands, including Hawaii, they call it “ura dina” in Fiji.


The researchers hope to start an industry based on M. lar farming, much like the one based on its cousin, the Malaysian giant freshwater prawn, M. rosenbergii, whose annual production value in Asia is estimated at one billion dollars.


Big and tasty, “Ura dina” can even survive out of water for short periods of time.  Researchers, Monal Lal, Johnson Seeto and Tim Pickering said the major drawback to further research into the suitability of farming “ura dina” was—until now—the inability to produce seedstock for farms.


Source: Fiji Times Online.  USP Rears Indigenous River Prawns.  Verenaisi Raicola.  August 7, 2010.



Lampung Province Swamped by Floods


Heavy rains in Lampung Province, the center of the provinces’shrimp farming industry, have swamped rice fields and shrimp farms, raising fears that billions of rupiah worth of harvests have been lost in the worst-hit areas.


Source: The Jakarta Post.  Lampung Rice Fields, Fish Farms Swamped by Floods.  Oyos Saroso H.N.  August 7, 2010.



Shrimp Project Survives Years of Challenges


The crushing impact of high interest rates in the late 1990s forced the Jamaica Agricultural Development Foundation (JADF) to change gears from what was dictated by its original mandate to what Chief Executive Officer Vitus Evans describes as project development.  This policy resulting in the selling of Caribbean Aqua Culture (CAC, the only shrimp farm in Jamaica), a 160-acre facility on a 250-acre property in Brampton, Old Harbour, St. Catherine.  Initially established as a joint venture with the University of the West Indies, which provided research and technology to match the financing and management from JADF, the project did quite well, said Evans.


“We grew the shrimp brilliantly....  I mean, the market sold everything out, but again we felt that there needed to be proper management and it needed to be in the private sector.  It took us a while, but in 2007, it was divested and we...got some private people to take it over.”


“We still maintain an interest, with about a 20 per cent stake, but it is divested.  JADF still owns the land but it is leased to private people, with the ponds, equipment and everything and then they pay a royalty,” said Evans.


Water is pumped from the sea into a 50-acre reservoir, from which it is gravity-fed or pumped into two-acre and five-acre ponds stocked with postlarvae imported from Miami or Cuba.


At the height of production, the facility produced 20,000 metric tons of shrimp a year, well above the 12,000 tons it now produces.  Even when operating at full potential, it is still unable to meet demand, according to Technical Director Noel Thompson.  “We cannot produce enough, as we supply the hotels and restaurants that go for the big shrimps, while for those people who do shrimp-fried rice and other such dishes, we produce the smaller ones.  As much as we produce, we are still unable to meet the demand for marine shrimp.  ...Jamaica is free of any of the diseases which affect the shrimp industry anywhere else in the world, and we only buy clean postlarvae.  By clean, we mean they must have disease-free status, must be SPF (specific pathogen free) certified.”


Thompson said seedstock suppliers were compelled to provide certification from reputable labs that their product was free of disease.  The Jamaican Veterinary Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries also checks validity and other standards before allowing shrimp seedstock into the country.


“For this, we pay three times as much...but it is worth it because if we were to try and cut cost by buying any postlarvae, then in a little while our shrimp industry would be wiped out,” said Thompson.


Source: The Gleaner.  Fish Farm Swims Through Wave of Challenges.  Christopher Serju.  Picture Credit, Christopher Serju.  August 7, 2010.



Closed-System Lobster Farming


The European lobster (Homarus gammarus) is one of the most valued seafoods in the world.  It is also relatively easy to farm and its biology is fairly well understood.  High production costs, however, have made it difficult to make money at lobster farming.  High costs include:


• The need for individual rearing compartments to avoid cannibalism and

uneven growth rates caused by status hierarchies

• The lack of a high quality formulated feed

• The high cost of heating water


In 2000, Norwegian Lobster Farm, located on the island of Kvitsøy in southwestern Norway, initiated a major R&D project to evaluate the potential for commercial production of plate-sized lobsters (20 centimeters long and 300 grams).  It has a hatchery where stage-IV juveniles are produced from carefully selected broodstock.


During the last eight years Norwegian Lobster Farm has developed, tested and documented six different technologies (single trays, stacks of trays, horizontal and vertical car-o-cells, strings of polyethylene and communal rearing).  The aim of the project was to develop cost-effective farming solutions using recirculated, heated seawater.  As a result of this work, NLF has patented its farming technology in 23 countries, technology that incorporates all the prerequisites for successful and profitable culture of plate-sized lobsters.


Moreover, the company has developed automated technologies that supplement most of the procedures that previously were dependent on manual labor.  The technologies include selection robots for grading larval stages, feeding robots, harvesting robots, remote desktop solutions and image processing software to identify molts, mortality and harvest times.  The farming concept has been successfully tested over the last three years.  The company is now commercializing its results and plans to expand its production up to 20 metric tons annually at its new facility.


Norwegian Lobster Farm has also developed a new feed especially engineered for the European lobster.  In the initial trials with commercial diets, all lobsters were fed with ordinary cod feed.  As a result, most of the lobsters were pale because the feed did not include any pigment.  It was therefore easy to observe the changes that occurred in color and thickness of the shell after introducing the new lobster feed.  After the first and second molting there were significant changes in pigmentation; all lobsters slowly turned from white to light blue, to dark blue and finally to black.


Norwegian Lobster Farm has now produced plate-sized lobsters on its formulated diet (including the larval stages) for four years.  No one has previously reared lobsters from metamorphosis to commercial size in two to three years solely, or even largely, on a commercial diet.


The plate-sized lobsters produced at Norwegian Lobster Farm’s factory have been tested several times at the Culinary Institute in Stavanger, Norway.  In these tests the farmed product was rated higher than wild-caught lobsters.


The first commercial-scale module at Kvitsøy has the capacity to produce around three metric tons annually.  Within a few years, the company hopes to increase capacity to 20 tons and then to 70 tons.


In order to successfully develop the company into the industrial stage, Norwegian Lobster Farm is now seeking strategic partners and investors to take part in this new industrial adventure.


Information: http://www.norwegian-lobster-farm.com.


Source: AES News (the online, PDF, newsletter of the Aquaculture Engineering Society).  Editor, Steven Summerfelt, Ph.D. (s.summerfelt@freshwaterinstitute.org).  A Land-based Recirculating Aquaculture System for Production of Market Size European Lobster in Norway.  Asbjørn Drengstig (M.Sc., Managing Director Norwegian Lobster Farm Group, Ltd., P.O. Box 391, 4067 Stavanger, Norway, email ad@norwegian-lobster-farm.com) and Asbjørn Bergheim, (Ph.D., Senior Researcher, IRIS 4085, Stavanger, Norway, email asbjorn.bergheim@iris.no).  Volume-13, Issue-2, Page-2, Summer 2010.



Camposol Holding PLC, Expanding Its Shrimp Farming Business


On July 23, 2010, Camposol Holding, S.A., announced that it was expanding its shrimp farming business through the acquisition of two shrimp farms, Domingo Rodas and Camarones, both located near Tumbes.  It also purchased an additional 170 hectares of ponds near those farms.


Before the acquisition, Domingo Rodas, S.A., was a subsidiary of the Ferreyros Group, which represents Caterpillar, Inc., in Peru.  It has about 150 hectares of shrimp ponds and a beachfront of about five kilometers.  It also leases an additional 50 hectares of ponds in the area.  In 2009, it lost money on revenues of $3.5 million.


The other shrimp farm that Camposol purchased, Camarones, S.A., has 40-hectares of ponds.


“Marinazul, S.A.”, is the name of Camposol’s shrimp farming subsidiary.  Before the acquisition of the two farms, it had 250 hectares of shrimp ponds.  Now it has 560.  Fabio Matarazzo, CEO of Camposol, said, “The Peruvian shrimp industry has been characterized by low profitability....  We are taking advantage of an opportunity to more than double the size of our shrimp business, and we see a high strategic fit between our existing and profitable shrimp business and the two companies that we are acquiring.”


Source: 1. iStockAnalyst.  Camposol Holding PLC - Expanding the Shrimp Business.  July 23, 2010.  2. FIS United StatesCamposol Expands Shrimp Business.  Analia Murias (editorial@fis.com).  August 4, 2010.



AquaCards Victorias


AquaCards Victorias, a 162-hectare shrimp farm 36 kilometers north of Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, switched to giant tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) in 2006, selling most of its harvest to Japan.  Its owners, Roy Villaflores Yanson (who inherited the management of the 20-year-old farm from his parents) and Susan Flores Yanson, had successful harvests in 2007 and 2008.  In early 2008, production reached 9-10 metric tons per hectare and survivals were good, but later that year the farm was hit by whitespot.


Consequently, in 2009, AquaCards installed a biosecurity system.  Now, the farm has 15 settling ponds, 17 treatment ponds and 42 shrimp growout ponds.  Roy Villaflores said, “The first stage in our biosecuity system is the ‘one entrance and one exit policy’.  All company vehicles are subjected to a bath with disinfectants at the main biosecurity house and at another tire bath area.  We have a zero visitor policy during the production cycle.  Sometimes, even I have difficulty entering some parts of the farm.”


Delmer Bacroya, production manager at the farm since 2008, said: “The inlet channel pumps in water from one river and we drain out water into another river.  Our staff only enters the one area assigned to them.  They must wear white plastic boots and go through the footbath and shower.  There are plastic lines above the ponds, installed 15 inches apart to deter birds...and crab nets [around the ponds].  Ponds are divided into modules and these are fenced in.  ...We have three staff per pond module and in total 30 staff for all growout ponds.”


Source: AQUA Culture AsiaPacific (Editor/Publisher, Zuridah Merican, email zuridah@aquaasiapac.com).  The Proactive Way to Live with WSSV.  Roselyn Usero and Leobert de la Pena.  Volume-6, Number-4, Page-8, July/August 2010.



Crustaceans Rule!


Ever wondered what kinds of wildlife dominate the world’s seas and oceans?  Now there’s an answer, at least in terms of the number of species in different categories.  It’s not fish.  It’s not mollusks.  It’s crustaceans!  The Census of Marine Life has revealed that nearly 20 percent of all the known marine species are crustaceans—shrimp, crabs, lobsters, crayfish, krill, barnacles and others far too numerous to mention.


Source: Reuters’Blogs.  Crustaceans Rule!  August 3, 2010.


United States

Louisiana—Wild Shrimp Has Oily Image


Those who harvest, process and sell the Gulf of Mexico’s famous seafood are trying to convince wary consumers that the catch is not only delicious, but safe.  Fishing grounds have begun to open, and tests show seafood caught there is safe to eat.  Many consumers remain suspicious, however, and that’s bad news for the shrimp industry.  Keath Ladner, owner of Gulf Shores Sea Products in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, says he won’t send his 70 boats out even though shrimp season is open in some spots.  He says, “Nobody wants it.  I can’t sell it.”


Ewell Smith, director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, says Louisiana processors are importing seafood from elsewhere!


Source: Google Hosted News.  Gulf Seafood Industry Tries to Shake an Oily Image.  The Associated Press.  Mary Foster and Brian Skoloff.  August 7, 2010.


United States

Washington State—Ken Talley Reports on Shrimp Imports



The volume of shrimp imports is down from year-ago levels, and prices are moving up.  The lower supply of Gulf of Mexico shrimp created a bigger than usual window of opportunity for imports.


It’s not just the disruption in shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, though, that is causing the shortfall in supply.  Rather, increased demand in Europe seems to be having a ripple effect in the USA and Japan, the two major shrimp markets.  Demand for warmwater shrimp in Europe has been stronger than normal this summer.  Both Japan and the USA are scrambling to get product, and often paying hefty replacement costs to get it.


USA shrimp imports in May 2010 were down 9.8% to 77.2 million pounds.  Total imports for the first five months of the year were down 5.2% to 403.3 million pounds.  With the lower import volume has come a corresponding increase in price.  The average price of a pound of imported shrimp was $3.16 through May.  This year’s import price is only 1.9% higher than last year’s May average of $3.10 a pound.  This means that shrimp is still a very reasonably priced seafood item—and is advertised as such at retail—when compared with other shellfish mainstays like king, snow and Dungeness crab.


Fueling the rise in shrimp prices is the shortage of large shrimp worldwide.  Reduced fishing in the Gulf of Mexico has exacerbated the shortage.  Large tiger shrimp are fetching premium prices as demand for larger shrimp accelerates.  Vietnam is a major source of tigers, but large sizes are still short.  Generally, it doesn’t look like shrimp supplies are going to increase.  This, combined with good demand in Europe, will keep prices firm.


Source: Seafood Trend Newsletter (independent coverage of the seafood market since 1984), 8227 Ashworth Avenue North, Seattle, Washington 98103-4434, USA (phone 1-206-523-2280, fax 1-206-526-8719, email seafoodtrend@aol.com).  Editor, Ken Talley.  August 9, 2010.


United States

West Virginia—Shrimp Burger Tops Beef and Chicken Burgers


On July 24, 2010, in Martinsburg, at the “Big Bad Burger Contest”, Ryan Horst’s Crispy Korean Shrimp Burger beat out chicken, venison and beef burgers to win top prize!


So, what exactly makes a prize-winning Crispy Korean Shrimp Burger?  Fresh shrimp, bell peppers, onions, celery, scallions, Gouda cheese and panko bread crumbs.  Toss in a honey garlic aioli sauce and sandwich it in a Vienna roll.  According to Horst, “The ingredients mesh well together....  The honey mellows the garlic, the roll has a great, crispy texture, and the Gouda complements the entire burger.”


Source: The Herald-Mail.  Shrimp Burger Wins Big Bad Burger Contest.  August 3, 2010.



Shrimp Seeds No. 1 Company Provides Free PLs to Poor Shrimp Farmers


Recently, the Shrimp Seeds No.1 Company in Bac Lieu Province provided more than 2,200,000 giant tiger PLs, worth around $5,000, to more than 100 poor households in Soc Trang Province.  Each household got from 6,000 to 48,000 postlarvae, depending on pond size.


Source: Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) WebsiteBac Lieu: Provide Black Tiger Shrimp Seeds to Poor Households.  August 9, 2010.



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