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From Prawns to Shrimp, From Fresh to Salt



Despite living in areas surrounded by freshwater, freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) farmers in the Mekong Delta are adding salt to their freshwater ponds so they can grow the more profitable white shrimp (Penaeus vannamei), a practice experts say can destroy the local ecosystem.  There are now hundreds of hectares of shrimp farms employing this trick, mostly in Dong Thap Province.  According to the provincial agriculture department, there are some 176 hectares of white shrimp farms in Dong Thap, 165 hectares of which are in Tam Nong District, considered the hub of the freshwater prawn farming industry in Vietnam.


N.V.G., a farmer in Tam Nong, said he was forced to follow the trending demand for white shrimp because “catfish prices keep falling, and raising king prawns is unprofitable.  I heard that yields from a 3,000-square-meter shrimp farm are equal to those of a 100,000-square-meter paddy field, so I decided to get into the game.”  He said it was no big deal to alter the salinity profile of his ponds.  “The water lacks salinity?  I will throw salt in.  Not enough alkaline phosphate or lime level?  Well, everything can be added to the water,” he said.


N.V.D., another farmer in Tam Nong, said he had converted his entire three-hectare prawn farm into a white shrimp farm.  “You can recoup your money faster with the white shrimp,” he said, adding that traders were willing to buy all his products, regardless of quality.


Associate Professor Duong Nhut Long, dean of the aquaculture department at Can Tho University, said raising white shrimp in unnatural brackish water will result in low-quality yields.  “The wastewater from these farms, once released into the environment, will ruin the freshwater ecosystem there,” he warned.


Elsewhere, in Ben Tre, Soc Trang and Kien Giang provinces, some prawn farmers have switched to shrimp.


Source: Intellasia.  Vietnamese Farmers Mix Salt with Water to Raise Shrimp.  July 27, 2017.


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