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Friday, November 12, 2010

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Farming Mitten Crabs in China




The Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis) is a medium-size hairy crab native to the coastal estuaries of eastern Asia from Korea in the north to Fujian Province, China, in the south.  It has also been introduced to Europe and North America where it is considered an invasive species.  With a body about the size of a human palm, the crab’s most distinguishing feature is the dense patches of dark hair on its claws.


Somewhat like Malaysian freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii), mitten crabs spend most of their life in fresh water, but must return to brackish water to breed.  In the late summer of their fifth year, they migrate downstream and attain sexual maturity in tidal estuaries.  After mating, the females continue seaward and overwinter in deeper waters.  They return to brackish water in the spring to spawn.  After passing through several larval stages, the juvenile crabs gradually move upstream into fresh water, completing their life cycle.


The Farming Cycle


The best specimens of mitten crabs are farmed in two freshwater lakes—Lake Tai and Lake Yangcheng—in Jiangsu Province.  Crab fry are sourced from the mouth of the Yangtze River in March and transferred to the lake edge, where they are confined in netted-off areas and fed maize and seaweed as well as snails that are collected locally.  The young crabs hibernate in the winter months by burrowing into the bottom.  In the spring, they are transferred to large pens in the middle of the lake for growout.  From the collection of the juveniles to the final harvest, it takes about two years for the industry to get the crustaceans ready for the table.


According to crab supplier Zhang Wei Wen, Lake Yangcheng has 55 hectares allocated to crab farming while the much larger Lake Tai has 170 hectares.  Zhang said, “Lake Tai is fed by the mountain streams that bring rich nutrients.  The local government is very strict on the water quality of the lake and no one is allowed to use any form of feed that is not approved.  Otherwise, the lake will be contaminated.  Every farm here and in the more famous Lake Yangcheng is licensed and regulated.” The reeds that hold the crabs together impart a light herbal seasoning.


As for identifying an authentic mitten crab, Zhang stipulated that it should have a shiny back.  Underneath, it should be ivory-colored and “ripe” with roe.  The rear portion of the crab must look like it is almost bursting.  When it is held, it should feel heavy, not light.  Male crabs have pointed bellies that resemble triangles; females have oval-shaped bellies.


Due to the relative proximity of the two lakes to Shanghai, the crabs are often branded as “Shanghai Crabs”.  The aim of eating mitten crabs is to savor the brilliant, reddish-orange roe with its delicate, creamy flavor that lingers.


With the growing affluence of consumers in Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and other major Chinese cities as well as increasing demand from restaurants around the world–including Southeast Asia–now there are fake mitten crabs on the market.  They resemble the real thing, but without the sought-after creamy-flavored roe.


Mitten crabs have exhibited a remarkable ability to survive in highly modified aquatic habitats, including polluted waters.  They can also easily tolerate and uptake heavy metals, such as cadmium and mercury.


Shrimp News: For a great view of what appears to be the crab pens on the bottom of Lake Tai, go to Google Earth (free but you must download it from Google) and zero in on these coordinates: 31°, 02’, 8.20” N; 120°, 26’, 46.99” E.  You get a much better view of Lake Yangcheng at: 31°, 25’, 38.29" N; 120°, 49', 14.67" E.  You can also copy the names of the lakes from here and paste them into Google Earth’s find window.  Both lakes are clear and shallow.  You can see right to the bottom of Lake Yangcheng.  Zero in on it and you can see how the entire bottom is sectioned off for crab farming.  Then zoom out and look at the intensity of aquaculture and agriculture around this lake.  Amazing!


Sources: 1. The Star Online.  Savoring Hairy Crabs.  Johnni Wong (  Picture of Stacks of Crabs.  October 31, 2010.  2. Wikipedia.  Chinese Mitten Crab.  November 7, 2010.  3. Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, November 9, 2010.



Country Heading


On Mission to Improve the Image of Its Farmed Shrimp


 On November 24, 2010, the Bangladesh Sea Food Importers and Processors Alliance, the Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association and the Bangladesh Sea Food Foundation will host a symposium in Brussels to discuss food safety measures in Bangladesh.  Specifically, it will focus on antibiotics in shrimp and the current status of the country’s testing equipment.


Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association Director Humayun Kabir is hopeful that the symposium will help improve the image of Bangladesh frozen food.  “It could help get the green signal from the European Union authority in January for withdrawal of the 20 percent mandatory inspection requirement of Bangladeshi frozen food consignments to EU, imposed in July this year.”


The decision will be finalized on the basis of the EU team’s report after a visit to Bangladesh in January 2011.  The team will inspect Bangladesh’s laboratory testing facilities during that visit.


The EU instituted the 20 percent mandatory inspection requirement because Bangladesh lacked “appropriate laboratory capacity for the testing of certain residues”, according to the official journal of the European Union.


Maqsudur Rahman, director of the Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry and vice president of Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association, said: “After imposition of the rule we are getting at least 5 to 10 percent lower price than in the previous time.  If any container goes for test to the EU health authority it takes at least two months to be released.  It delays payment as the exporters get payment after release of the container from the health authority.  At the same time, it also increases the bank interest of the exporter.  We are hopeful that Bangladesh might get a positive signal from the EU authority and get rid of this situation.”


Source: (an online, subscription-based, fisheries news service).  25 Member Delegation Attending Brussels Symposium on Bangladesh Shrimp Testing to Improve Reputation.  Sonia H. Moni.  Ken Coons (phone 1-781-861-1441, email  Editor and Publisher, John Sackton (phone 1-781-861-1441, email  October 28, 2010.



Sounds Like a Vaccine Against Whitespot to Me?


Abstract: “Two kinds of specific chicken egg yolk immunoglobulins (IgYs), IgY-WSSV and IgY-VP28, were, respectively, raised against the 2 mM binary ethylenimine (BEI)-inactivated white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) and a principal envelope protein VP28.  The activity of purified specific IgYs was stable under the conditions of 20–70° C, pH 3.0–10.0 and 0–700 g L−1 sucrose solution.  In the neutralization assay, these high-affinity IgY antibodies can specifically bind with the virus particles to protect shrimp (Penaeus chinensis) against WSSV infection.  After oral delivery for 20 days, the IgY-WSSV exerted a higher protection effect (PE: 71.5%) than IgY-VP28 (PE: 63.7%).  Moreover, an increase in PE (79.2%) was found on addition of IgY-WSSV:VP28 (0.1% IgY-VP28 plus 0.2% IgY-WSSV).  This may indicate that neutralization of WSSV refers to the multiple-hit model.  By time-course study of the levels of the specific IgYs in vivo, the data showed that the titre was enhanced to a relatively high level (P/N=8.35±0.45) at 3 days post administration, declined slightly (P/N=7.13±1.01) at 7 days post administration and then remained stable for further investigation.”


“The stable antibody level potentially contributes towards blocking a large number of WSSV particles from entering and infecting the major tissues at the early and late stages after challenge in shrimp.”


Source: Aquaculture Research.  Protection of Fenneropenaeus Chinensis (Osbeck, 1765) Against the White Spot Syndrome Virus Using Specific Chicken Egg Yolk Immunoglobulins by Oral Delivery.  Ling-Lin Fu, Yanbo Wang, Jian-Rong Li and Wei-Fen Li (, Key Laboratory of Molecular Animal Nutrition, Ministry of Education, College of Animal Sciences, Zhejiang University, 164 Qiu Tao North Road, Hangzhou 310029, China).  Volume 41, Issue 12, Page 1806.  November 2010.



Penaeus vannamei Production Adds to Exports


Facing stiff competition from countries like Thailand and China that farm mostly white shrimp (Penaeus vannamei), India started farming white shrimp in 2010.  Anwar Hashim, national president of Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI), estimates that India will export more than 20,000 metric tons of P. vannamei in 2010.  According to SEAI, it costs approximately $2.30 to produce a kilogram of vannamei—half the cost of producing a ton of tiger shrimp (P. monodon).


Source: The Financial Express.  Rising White Shrimp Production Pushes Up Exports.  Rajesh Ravi.  November 1, 2010.


“Whitespot Bacculo Attack” at Shrimp Farms in Orissa


Five thousand families in the state of Orissa, directly or indirectly involved in shrimp farming, are losing income because of what has been labeled as a “whitespot bacculo attack” at shrimp farms.


Jibal Lal Behera, district wing chief of Orissa’s traditional marine fish workers association, said: “Last year, the deadly virus...struck the shrimp pond.  But this year it’s back with a bang.  Its intensity is much greater (see next item).  The disease has already claimed at least 50% of cultivated shrimp.  If things remain unchanged, many would be forced to give up shrimp farming in coming year.  ...The pond owner, workers, shrimp seeds and feed sellers, transport operators and ice manufacturing units are going to be major losers.  As far as I know, some of the brackish water shrimp farm owners have so far incurred loss of over $112,000 after the viral disease hit their respective ponds.”


Janaki Ballav Das, deputy director of Orissa’s marine fisheries department, said poor pond management was the probable cause of the virus outbreak.


Source: IBN Live.  Viral Infection Threatens Semi-Adult Shrimp Species.  October 24, 2010.


Shrimp and Crab Prices Surge


In anticipation of heavy, end-of-the-year demand, crab and shrimp prices have surged upward.  Home consumption is increasing because today’s shrimp and crab products are easier to prepare than fish.  At retail, farmed tiger shrimp from Indonesia fetch $15 per kilo (35-44 count tails), about 14% higher than the low in mid-August 2010 and approaching the all-time high of $16 a kilo.


Crab prices are also on the rise.  Prices for Alaskan king crab, a luxury in Japan, recently hit an all-time high of $14 per pound, a jump of 49% from the lows in 2009.


Snow crab prices in Boston, which serve as a benchmark for international crab prices, have also soared 52% to around $5 per pound.


Analysts point out that the major cause of the price upturn is active buying by mass retailers and trading firms in the USA and Europe.


As a result of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, major retailing chains like Wal-Mart have shifted from wild-caught Gulf of Mexico shrimp to farmed shrimp from Asia!


Source: (an online, subscription-based, fisheries news service).  Editor and Publisher, John Sackton (phone 1-781-861-1441, email  Crab Prices Surging on Strength of Stronger Than Expected US, European Demand, Say Japanese Buyers.  John Sackton.  November 1, 2010.

The Netherlands

Whitespot Virus Evolves with Shrimp Farming Practices


Scientists at Wageningen University in the Netherlands have reconstructed the genetic and geographical trajectory of the shrimp whitespot virus from ancestral sources and discovered that it is becoming more virulent and shedding some of its DNA as it adapts to the shrimp-farming environment.  The scientists analyzed samples of the virus from five Asian countries, then compared them to each other and to the published literature on WSSV from Taiwan, China, Vietnam and Thailand, allowing them to identify the genetic changes that occurred in the various virus populations since farming began.


The large whitespot virus genome varies from country-to-country.  The variations can be identified by looking for missing DNA fragments called “deletions”.  By lining up a time series of virus samples, the scientists found the two patterns: the majority of the deletions occur shortly after a population is introduced into captivity and the deletion rate decreases over time in a process that can be mathematically described.  Both changes appear to be evolutionary adaptations of the virus to shrimp farming practices.


The virus seems to have spread over long distances in a short timeframe, which points to transportation of infected shrimps as the major factor.


Source:  Scientists Find Explanation for Global Advance of Shrimp Virus.  November 1, 2010.


Automated Technology for Monitoring and Feeding Lobsters at Land-Based Systems


The LobsterPlant project, with eight partners in five EU member countries, is focused on developing automated technology for monitoring and feeding lobsters at land-based systems.  Norsk Hummer AS, based in Tjeldbergodden, Norway, has established a hatchery with significant production capacity and is already undergoing trials with a newly designed robotic feeding system designed to deliver precise amounts of feed to individual lobsters.  Norsk is being assisted by North Bay Shellfish, Scotland, which has been associated with one of the more successful European lobster hatcheries in the Orkney Islands, off the northeast coast of Scotland.  North Bay Shellfish has already made advances in automating the feeding and cleaning of juvenile lobsters and in reducing the labor costs associated with feeding and maintenance of early post-settlement lobsters.


“Large scale ranching [release/recapture] has never become established due to the continued high costs of producing the juveniles,” said David Fletcher, an independent consultant working on the EU-funded project.  LobsterPlant looks to drastically reduce these costs.  If production costs can be significantly reduced then farming lobsters to a market size of 350 grams will remain a target for project coordinator Norsk Hummer.


In Europe, Norway and the UK have implemented legislation that allows lobster ranching.


To date, no EU company has established technology that supports large-scale, land-based production of market size or juvenile homarid lobsters on a commercially economic basis.


Source: Fish Farming International.  Editor, Rachel Mutter (  A Snapshot of the Future/The New Species Experimenter.  Issue-11, Page-24, November 2010.

Saudi Arabia

$267 Million Investment


Reuters reports: Saudi-based agricultural investment firm Agroinvest plans to raise $267 million in January 2011 and invest it in domestic food production systems.  Agroinvest, or the International Agriculture and Food Investment Co, is among the biggest of the many private firms in the Kingdom that have been set up for this purpose.  Usamah al-Kurdi, who chairs Agroinvest’s founding committee, said he would focus on opportunities in poultry, fisheries, shrimp, greenhouses and food products.  At a later stage, the company may raise another $267 million to pursue opportunities abroad, but “First we focus on Saudi Arabia,” Kurdi said.


Source:  Saudi Agri Investor to Focus on Home Market First.  Ulf Laessing and Jane Baird.  November 1, 2010.

United States

California—“Bistro Shrimp Pasta”, the Worst Dish in America


On November 2, 2010, David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding, the authors of the Eat This, Not That! book series, revealed the “20 Worst Foods in America”.  The list featured the worst caloric catastrophes at major restaurant and fast-food chains.  It was compiled by evaluating portion sizes and the amount of fat, sugar and salt in the meals.  Topping the 2010 list is Cheesecake Factory’s “Bistro Shrimp Pasta”, which boasts a monstrous 2,727 calories and 78 grams of saturated fat, the saturated fat equivalent of 78 strips of bacon and the calorie equivalent of nearly six McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with Cheese.


Source: (an online, subscription-based, fisheries news service).  Editor and Publisher, John Sackton (phone 1-781-861-1441, email  Men’s Health Calls Cheesecake Factory’s Bistro Shrimp Pasta “Worst Food in America”.  John Sackton.  November 2, 2010.

United States

Florida—Job, Shrimp Hatchery Manager


Aquadventure, Inc., has a position open for a marine shrimp hatchery biologist in Clewiston, Florida, USA.


Qualifications: Five years experience running a Litopenaeus vannamei shrimp hatchery.  Papers to work in the USA.  Undocumented candidates need not apply.


Closing Date: December 6, 2010.


Information: Michael Mogollon (


Source: AquaNic (The Aquaculture Network Information Center, a gateway to the world’s electronic aquaculture resources).  Jobs Directory in cooperation with the WAS Employment ServiceSearch jobsMarine Shrimp Hatchery Biologist.  November 6, 2010.

United States

Hawaii—Kona Bay Marine Resources, Video of Cast-Net Harvest


In this two-and-a-half-minute video, Nancy Kanna, in charge of sales and marketing at Sunrise Capital, which owns Kona Bay Marine Resources, a shrimp farm and broodstock facility on the island of Kauai, describes a cull harvest in which the shrimp are concentrated near the edge of a circular pond with nets and then harvested with cast nets.  The video ends with some beautiful shots of cooked shrimp.


Source: YouTube.  Kauai Shrimp Farm.  October 25, 2010.

United States

Florida—Red Lobster Sues Fridays


Olive Garden has its “never ending pasta bowl”.  Red Lobster has its “endless shrimp”.  Both restaurant chains are part of the Darden Restaurant group.  So when some T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants in San Diego, California, began running a “never ending shrimp” special, Darden had something to say about it, filing a federal lawsuit, saying the term “never ending shrimp” infringes on the trademark of Olive Garden’s 15-year-old annual pasta special.


Darden says T.G.I. Friday’s has caused further confusion by combining “never ending” with shrimp, the focus of Red Lobster’s all-you-can-eat promotion under way now.  Red Lobster’s “endless shrimp” is also trademarked.


Darden Concepts and GMRI, two Darden subsidiaries, filed the suit in southern California last week against New Jersey-based Briad Restaurant Group.  Briad operates T.G.I. Friday’s franchises in several states.


Darden has asked for an unspecified amount of damages, including profits from the San Diego-area T.G.I. Friday’s “never ending shrimp” promotion.


Darden says in its lawsuit the T.G.I. Friday’s operator “willfully attempted to confuse and mislead consumers”.  The ads could lead people to think T.G.I. Friday’s is associated with Darden and its chains, the lawsuit contends.


In 2004, Darden filed suit against the International House of Pancakes when its restaurants ran “never ending pancakes” and “never ending popcorn shrimp” promotions.  The suit was settled, but terms were not disclosed.


Source: Orlando Sentinel.  Darden Sues T.G.I. Friday’s over “Never Ending”.  Sandra Pedicini (email, phone 1-407-420-5240).  October 11, 2010.

United States

Illinois—Tony Schuur Goes to Work for the Illinois Soybean Association


The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) has hired Tony Schuur, a professional aquaculture scientist and long-term shrimp-farming consultant, to help manage the group’s aquaculture market development program.  His title at ISA: Aquaculture Program and Strategy Contractor.


As with other segments of animal agriculture, many fish and shrimp species have shown strong performance with soy protein included in feed rations.  Schuur’s consulting experience includes eight years as a supervising environmental scientist with James M. Montgomery Consulting Engineers and more than 20 years as an independent consultant.  He has assisted with the planning, design, implementation and technical management of both shrimp and finfish aquaculture facilities in the USA and in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Central and South America.


Information: Anthonie M. Schuur, Aquaculture Management Services, 11583 Valensin Road, Galt, California 95632, USA (phone 1-772-971-6500, email


Sources: 1. The FishSite.  Soybean Association Hires Aquaculture Scientist.  November 2, 2010.  2. Email to Shrimp News International from Tony Schuur on November 7, 2010.

United States

New Jersey—Epicore, Record Sales of Probiotics and Shrimp Hatchery Feeds


Epicore Bionetworks, Inc., a USA corporation that supplies probiotics and hatchery feeds to shrimp farmers worldwide, started its 2010 fiscal year in the depths of a severe economic downturn, but recovered strongly as the year progressed.  Quarters two, three and four set records.  Fiscal 2010 sales at $3.8 million were the highest in company history and were 20% above 2009.


Some highlights:


• Increased gross profit from $2.0 million to $2.4 million (a 20% increase)

• Achieved basic and diluted earnings per share of $0.06, up from $0.02

• Increased shareholders’ equity from $2.3 million to $3.7 million (a 59% increase)

• Increased cash from $0.8 to $1.0 million (a 24% increase)


Epicore BioNetworks, Inc., is a public corporation with a registered office in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and with shares listed on the TSX Venture Exchange (Toronto, symbol EBN).


Information: William Long, Chief Executive Officer, Epicore Bionetworks, Inc., 4 Lina Lane, Easthampton, New Jersey 08060, USA (phone 1-609-267-9118, email, webpage


Source: Email to Shrimp News International from William Long at Epicore Bionetworks, Inc.  Subject: Epicore Fiscal 2010 Results.  Attachment: Epicore BioNetworks Inc.  Strong Results in Fiscal Year 2010 for the Year Ended 30 June 2010.  October 29, 2010.


Bumper Harvest in Quang Ninh Province


To date, farmers in Quang Ninh Province (bordering China on the Gulf of Tonkin) have harvested 1,904 metric tons of farmed shrimp, 1,204 tons from intensive ponds and 700 tons from extensive ponds.


According to the Yen Hung District Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, farmed shrimp output in the spring-summer crops should exceed 2,700 tons, an increase of 400 tons, compared to the same period in 2009.


Source: Vietnam Seafood Trade Magazines.  Bumper Harvest of Shrimp.  October 30, 2010.

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