Australia’s Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture
100% of Shrimp Farm Stocked with
The Summer 2009 edition of Austasia Aquaculture contains a long article on Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture, a fifty-hectare shrimp farm with two hatcheries, a processing plant and its own marketing operation in Queensland, Australia. Noel Herbst established the farm in 1986. In addition to five family members, the farm employs 35 more people to produce over 500 metric tons of giant tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) a year. It sells to wholesalers, retailers and restaurants in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and, to stay in touch with consumers, to the public from a farm shop.
Its main stocking period is late September through early October. Harvests begin in January and continue until April or May. Gold Coast sells fresh shrimp for the first five months of the year and frozen shrimp for the rest of the year or until it runs out of product.
In Australia, most shrimp farmers stock postlarvae produce from wild-caught Penaeus monodon broodstock. For the 2010 harvest year, however, Gold Coast stocked its entire farm with eighth generation postlarvae (PL-15s), produced from its own line of genetically improved broodstock!
David O’Sullivan, shrimp columnist for Austasia Aquaculture, authored the article, which included the following quotes from Nick Moore, Gold Coast’s farm manager.
“We stocked our 53 ponds with 40 PLs/m2 in September and October 2009. These are eighth generation hatchery spawned PLs. None of the progeny were from wild-caught broodstock. To be able to stock over 20 million PLs in a three week period is a fantastic achievement.”
“We understand that CP (Thailand’s huge prawn farming company) is experimenting with giant tiger domestication. However, we are the first in the world to stock 100% of a farm with domesticated tiger PLs.”
“We don’t have any intention to grow more than 10-11 tons/ha/year. It just puts too much stress on our growing and harvesting infrastructure, and quality not quantity, is our primary concern. At 10 tons/ha/yr, we have both good profitability and high quality at the end. We undertake thinning harvests over an 8-10 week period to keep the quality high.”
Moore said that hatchery manager Brian Murphy and his staff have been patiently developing the broodstock for the past nine years, expertly supported by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s Dr. Nigel Preston and his research team.
“The CSIRO scientists were able to use DNA tracking of individual shrimp to allow us to avoid inbreeding amongst our spawners. When you think that we have around 15 to 20 thousand...spawners to keep track of, that is a lot of work. Our people did a tremendous job of taking care of so many shrimp every day of the week all year round. It is nonstop work, but it has paid great dividends!”
In the broodstock facility, a pressure bag system filters out suspended solids down to 25 um, while biofilters allow almost 100% recirculation. “The tanks are indoors so we don’t lose water to evaporation and need only to top up with a few liters daily. We keep a very close eye on uneaten food and other organic wastes in the water (any molts are quickly eaten or dissolve in the system). This assists in maintaining water quality.”
“While the fecundity of the domesticated...tigers is lower than their wild cousins, we’ve found fecundity improving with each generation. This year it doubled, probably due to the domesticated stocks becoming more docile with each generation. Our shrimp are so much easier to handle; the difference to the wild animals is like chalk and cheese!”
The 15,000 to 20,000 domesticated broodstock are held at low densities and culled through a rigorous selection process to around 5,000. These animals are further assessed and reduced to a core group of around 500, which is genotyped and then each animal is marked with molt tags or colored plastic rings around their eyestalks to separate family lines.
“Our PLs are super strong and aren’t stressed like those from wild-caught broodstock. They are bigger and more uniform in size, grow very quickly with low mortalities and cope a lot better with...conditions, especially changes in salinity or temperature. We have never had any disease problems and so never used medicated feeds. No additives or preservatives are added to our prawns.”
“Last year we had an average FCR of 1.42. We used both CP Feeds (Thailand) and Ridley's (Queensland, Australia) pellets and kept providing the same brand to the shrimp throughout the pond cycle. We believe we now have the right mix of Australian and overseas feeds to ensure we don’t have all our ‘eggs in one basket’.”
At present Gold Coast is only producing seedstock for its own ponds, but with research into triploidy [which prevents reproduction] underway, it may make sterile PLs available in the future.
“The color of our shrimp is a function of the appropriate environment and good feeding so they look fantastic. We also selectively harvest larger shrimp with our trap nets and transfer them into insulate bins to keep them alive until they get to the onsite processing plant.”
Gold Coast’s state-of-the-art processing facility (l00 m2) is equipped with an impressive collection of grading, cooking, chilling and freezing equipment, including a one-ton-per hour IQF line and a minus-30°C blast freezer. “Gold Coast Tigers have always received a premium price due to the quality and reliability of our grading and packaging. Already one-third of our next crop [harvests have already begun] has been allocated (pre-sold) at set prices.”
“With the successes from our domestication we...certainly reaped the benefits of a good production season last year, and there will be very exciting times this year with the 100% domesticated stock. Still we have a long way to go to keep improving the process to ensure routine production.”
Information: Nick Moore, General Manager, Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture, 148 Marks Road, Woongoolba, Queensland 4207, Australia (phone 07-5546-1361, email email@example.com, website http://www.goldcoasttigerprawns.com.au/).
Not Only Farms Must Register, Hatcheries, Too
On December 30, 2009, The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fishing (MAGAP) published a new regulation that requires all shrimp hatcheries to register with the government by March 31, 2010.
Rafael Verduga, manager of Texcumar, a shrimp hatchery, calculates that of the more than 200 laboratories, only 40 percent are completely registered. The rest work illegally.
Alex Elghoul, manager of Aquatropical, another shrimp hatchery, says the hatchery industry produces 400 million nauplii a day, but the market only demands between 280 and 300 million. With a constant surplus hanging over the market, prices stay low, Elghoul said.
According to data furnished by the National Aquaculture Chamber (CNA), there were 216 registered hatcheries in 2008.
The Subsecretariat of Aquaculture indicated that there were 230 registered hatcheries in 2009, of which 90 percent were in Santa Elena.
Mineral Requirements of Shrimp
At 25 parts per thousand salinity, Penaeus vannamei has the highest growth rate, the lowest feed conversion ratio and the least variation in size distribution at harvest because the osmolarity of the water is similar to the iso-osmotic point of the shrimp’s hemolymph (bodily fluids). Therefore, the shrimp can optimize the utilization of the dietary nutrients with less energy expended on balancing its internal chemistry. To increase the production of shrimp, to prevent the imbalance of mineral ions in the water and to decrease the cost of production, water-soluble minerals must be added to high-density shrimp ponds.
Information: John Cooksey, World Aquaculture Conference Management, P.O. Box 2302, Valley Center, California 92082, USA (phone 1-760-751-5005, fax 1-760-751-5003, email firstname.lastname@example.org, webpage https://www.was.org/Main/Default.asp).
Source: The Abstracts of World Aquaculture 2009 (on CD). The Role of Minerals in The Shrimp Pond Culture System. Dr. Farshad Shishehchian (Novus International, Pte. Ltd., 101 Thompson Road, #12-05 United Square, Singapore 307571, email email@example.com). Veracruz, Mexico, September 2009.
California—Shrimp News International, The WAS Meeting in San Diego
Hi, if you are planning a special shrimp event for the World Aquaculture Society Meeting in San Diego (March 2–5, 2010), please forward information about it as soon as possible, and I’ll announce it in the next issue of Free News. At the meeting, if you have news to report, tap me on the shoulder, and I’ll take down your story.
A couple of days ago I posted a summary of a long discussion on water reuse in biofloc systems to the Free Reports section of this site. Titled How Long Can Water Be Used in a Biofloc System?/A Discussion for the Shrimp List, you can check it out at http://www.shrimpnews.com/WaterReuseShrimpList.html.
Source: Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, February 4, 2010.
Florida—Frank Hoff, Jr. (1938-2010)
Frank Hoff, one of the pioneers of aquaculture in the United States, died on January 28, 2010.
Harvey Persyn, one of the founding fathers of shrimp farming in the Western Hemisphere, who knew Frank throughout his career, has prepared an obituary that documents Frank’s accomplishments in aquaculture. During the early years of shrimp farming in the Western Hemisphere, Frank was one of the industries most reliable suppliers of hatchery equipment and supplies. Persyn writes:
“In 1987, Frank established Aquaculture Supply, which he developed into a very successful business to meet the needs of the tropical fish industry as well as the shrimp farming industry in South and Central America. Frank was well known in the shrimp farming industry for selling and shipping the right equipment that was personally field-tested. He was often called upon to solve technical problems in shrimp hatcheries and was always available for phone consultations to his customers.”
Source: Email from Harvey Persyn (firstname.lastname@example.org) to Shrimp News International on February 1, 2010. Subject: Frank Hoff.
Mississippi—Freshwater Prawns Listed as a “Green” Product by Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program has officially listed farmed freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) produced in the USA as a “green” product, its highest environmental ranking. USA farmed prawns are the very first shrimp or prawn to achieve a green ranking in every one of MBA’s five sustainability criteria, since Seafood Watch began assessing seafood in 1999!
FishWise, a sustainable seafood organization based in Santa Cruz, California, has released a report on the sustainability of USA farmed shrimp. Sian Morgan, director of science at FishWise and a co-author of the report with science analyst Victoria Galitzine, says the industry is ranked using five sustainability criteria:
• Use of marine resources
• Risk of escaped fish to wild stocks
• Risk of disease and parasite transfer to wild stocks
• Risk of pollution and habitat effects
• Management effectiveness
Together, the criteria are used to generate the “traffic light” score (from green to red lights), via assessment methods designed by MBA.
Much of the USA farmed shrimp industry, which is based in Texas, is ranked yellow, meaning the shrimp is a good alternative if a “green” product, the best choice, isn’t available. Most coastal Texas farms are open systems where some farm water is exchanged with coastal water. “Green” operations use either recirculating systems or inland ponds to minimize biosecurity risks.
Large retailers looking for products that meet certain environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility criteria often use the rankings.
Dr. Louis R. D’Abramo, a prawn researcher at Mississippi State University, said he’s been working on the “green” approval with MBA for over four years. Information: Louis R. D’Abramo, Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate School and Associate Vice, President for Academic Affairs, Mississippi State University, P.O. Box G, Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762, USA (phone 1-662-325-7400, email email@example.com).
Sources: 1. Email from Lou D’Abramo to Shrimp News International. Subject: Freshwater Prawn News. January 22, 2010. 2. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program Website and FishWise’s Website on January 31, 2010.
This Is Painful to Read
Americans love their shrimp. It’s the most popular seafood in the country, but unfortunately much of the shrimp we eat are a cocktail of chemicals, harvested at the expense of the environment. Worse, guidelines for finding some kind of “sustainable shrimp” are so far nonexistent. [Editor: This last statement is not true. See the item that preceded it. There are probably other untruths in what follows, but that is not the point. The point is that this is the kind of stuff being read by the American consumer!]
In his book, Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood, Taras Grescoe paints a repulsive picture of how shrimp are farmed in one region of India. The shrimp pond preparation begins with urea, superphosphate and diesel, then progresses to the use of piscicides (fish-killing chemicals like chlorine and rotenone), pesticides and antibiotics (including some that are banned in the USA), and ends by treating the shrimp with sodium tripolyphosphate (a suspected neurotoxicant), Borax, and occasionally caustic soda.
Upon arrival in the USA, few if any, are inspected by the FDA and, when researchers have examined imported ready-to-eat shrimp, they found 162 separate species of bacteria with resistance to 10 different antibiotics. And yet, as of 2008, Americans are eating 4.1 pounds of shrimp apiece each year—significantly more than the 2.8 pounds per year of the second most popular seafood, canned tuna. But what are we actually eating without knowing it? And is it worth the price—to our health and the environment?
Understanding the shrimp that supplies our nation’s voracious appetite is quite complex. Overall, the shrimp industry represents a dismantling of the marine ecosystem piece by piece. Farming methods range from those described above to some that are more benign. Problems with irresponsible methods of farming don’t end at the “yuck” factor. Shrimp farming is credited with destroying 38 percent of the world’s mangroves, some of the most diverse and productive ecosystems on earth. Mangroves sequester vast amounts of carbon and serve as valuable buffers against hurricanes and tsunamis. Some compare shrimp farming methods that demolish mangroves to slash-and-burn agriculture. A shrimp farmer will clear a section of mangroves and close it off to ensure that the shrimp cannot escape. Then the farmer relies on the tides to refresh the water, carrying shrimp excrement and disease out to sea. In this scenario, the entire mangrove ecosystem is destroyed and turned into a small dead zone for short-term gain. Even after the shrimp farms leave, the mangroves do not come back.
A more responsible farming system involves closed, inland ponds that use their wastewater for agricultural irrigation instead of allowing it to pollute oceans or other waterways. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, when a farm has good disease management protocols, it does not need to use so many antibiotics or other chemicals.
Additionally, some shrimp are wild-caught, and while they aren’t raised in a chemical cocktail, the vast majority are caught using trawling, a highly destructive fishing method. Football field-sized nets are dragged along the ocean floor, scooping up and killing several pounds of marine life for every pound of shrimp they catch and demolishing the ocean floor ecosystem as they go. Where they don’t clear-cut coral reefs or other rich ocean floor habitats, they drag their nets through the mud, leaving plumes of sediment so large they are visible from outer space.
Source: AlertNet.org. Shrimp’s Dirty Secrets: Why America’s Favorite Seafood Is a Health and Environmental Nightmare. Jill Richardson. January 25, 2010.
South Carolina—Waddell Mariculture Center, Aquaculture Research Internships
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ Waddell Mariculture Center in Bluffton, South Carolina, offers several summer internship opportunities for students currently enrolled in a college program with an emphasis on biology, environmental science, aquaculture or fisheries. Interns will assist with research projects involving marine shrimp and fish in ponds, raceways and recirculating systems. Interns will participate in setting up experiments, feeding and sampling of animals, collection and analysis of water quality data, data entry and analysis, maintenance of experimental systems, and other projects at the facility. Each intern will also conduct an independent research project. Most of the work will be conducted outdoors in hot or possibly inclement weather. Internships are full-time with some overtime required for approximately ten weeks, May through August 2010, to be determined by student’s academic calendar. Salary $175 per week with onsite dormitory housing provided. Payment will be made to student’s home institution, which will then pay the intern. Students must be USA citizens currently enrolled full-time in an undergraduate institution. Submit resume, letter stating how you would benefit from the internship, and two letters of reference to Edward DuRand (below):
Closing Date: March 26, 2010.
Information: Edward DuRant, Waddell Mariculture Center, 211 Sawmill Creek Road, Bluffton, South Carolina 29910, USA (phone 843-837-3795, extension 183, email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Source: AquaNic (The Aquaculture Network Information Center, a gateway to the world’s electronic aquaculture resources). Jobs Directory in cooperation with the WAS Employment Service. Search jobs. Aquaculture Research Internship. Posted February 1, 2010.
Mr. Pham Van Tinh, Deputy Director of the National Agriculture Fisheries Extension Center, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), said MARD is boosting rice/shrimp rotation in the Mekong Delta. Tinh said that shrimp farming throughout the year contributes to the problem of salinization, but that rotating rice and shrimp helps correct the problem. It has been reported that rotating rice and shrimp produces a profit of over $2,000 per hectare per year.
Source: Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) Website. Mekong Delta: Development of Rice-Shrimp Model. January 18, 2010.
Tiger Prices Increase in the Mekong Delta
Recently prices for giant tiger shrimp in Ca Mau Province increased by $0.65 to $1.14 per kilo, depending on size. Currently, twenty-count-per-kilo whole tigers fetch $9.75 a kilo. The main reason for the increase is that farmers are between crops right now and don’t have much to sell—and some farmers have shifted to finfish due to massive mortalities of farmed shrimp in 2009. The shortage of farmed shrimp is expected to continue for several months.
Fusarium Hits Spiny Lobsters
This paper reports on the first case of black gill disease (Fusarium solani, a fungi) in caged-cultured spiny lobsters (Panulirus ornatus). F. solani is frequently isolated from American lobsters Homarus americanus, shrimp such as Penaeus japonicus and P. californiensis, and sharks.
Milky hemolymph syndrome, possibly caused a by Rickettsia-like bacteria, has been identified as the biggest disease problem for Panulirus farmers in Vietnam.
Source: Aquaculture Asia Magazine. Editor, Simon Wilkinson. Aquatic Animal Health/Black Gill Disease of Cage-Cultured Ornate Rock Lobster Panulirus Ornatus in Central Vietnam Caused by Fusarium Species. Nha, V.V. (lvkhoa©dah.gov.vn, Research Institute for Aquaculture No.3, 33 Dang Tat Str., Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam), Hoa, D.T., and Khoa, L.V. Volume 14, Number-4, Page-35. October-December 2009.