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Shrimp Farming Research, a Forty-Six Year History


In 1968, the TAMU Texas Agricultural Extension Service began its shrimp mariculture program in Brazoria County, funded through Texas A&M University’s Sea Grant College Program and the Texas Agriculture Extension Service, with assistance from the Brazoria County Mosquito Control District.  It was managed and operated by Texas A&M University’s Dr. Wallace Klussmann, Dr. Jack Parker and Mr. Hoyt Holcomb and located on a bayou 1.5 miles from Chocolate Bay.  In 1969-1971, ten half-acre ponds were built and operated.  In 1970, four half-acre ponds were added on the northeastern shore of Sabine Lake in Orange County.  Some 32-pond stockings were conducted.  It was found that Penaeus setiferus was better suited for pond culture than P. aztecus.  The ten ponds in the photo below were the ponds used in Brazoria County near Angleton.





In 1971-72, ten more ponds and a water reservoir were added to the Angleton/Brazoria County R&D facility.  In 1973, one experiment reported by Holcomb and Parker consisted of growing P. aztecus, P. setiferus and P. occidentalis and assessing the efficiency of harvest techniques.  Scanned photos from World Mariculture Society 1973 paper entitled “Efficiency of Drain and Seine Harvest Techniques in Experimental Penaeid Shrimp Culture Ponds”, by Hoyt W. Holcomb and Jack C. Parker appear below.




In 1972, Ralston Purina’s Crystal River Mariculture Research Center in Florida determined that white shrimp (P. setiferus and P. vannamei) provided better yields than brown shrimp (P. aztecus).  This was also confirmed in Texas.  Also in 1972, a second Texas A&M Agricultural Extension Service mariculture facility, managed by Dr. Fred Conte and Dr. Jack Parker, was established near Corpus Christi, Texas.  In cooperation with the Barney M. Davis Power Generating Station in Flour Bluff, Texas, and Ralston Purina, it utilized technology developed at the Brazoria County facility.  A production module was designed and constructed to demonstrate the feasibility of intensive shrimp culture.  The shrimp passed through three adjacent ponds (one-eighth, one-fourth and one-half acres) as they matured, a concept that provided better utilization of space and capital investment than single pond units.  The most significant finding of those growout trials was that two non-indigenous species, P. vannamei and P. stylirostris, yielded higher production than native species, confirming the earlier work in Florida.




At the World Mariculture Society conference in 1974, Dr. Jack Parker, reported results of a 1973 small-scale experiment he conducted with Dr. Fred Conte.  In the first year of their study, they found that P. stylirostris performed very well in pond culture, as did P. vannamei; but in the second year, they found that P. stylirostris performed poorly, while P. vannamei continued to produce good yields.  Based on these results, they concluded that the system was capable of producing 1,800 to 2,700 pounds per acre during the six-to-seven month growing season available in Texas, but could produce up to 5,344 pounds per acre in regions where year around operation was feasible.  They also concluded that P. stylirostris was not a desirable species for culture under the intensive conditions of that experiment.


Also in 1972, TAMU (Texas Agriculture Extension Service and Texas Agriculture Experiment Station) shrimp research facility was set up in Corpus Christi and managed by Dr. Fred Conte, and later Dr. Addison Lawrence.  In 1974, an expansion to 18 one-quarter-acre ponds was completed at the Barney Davis Power Plant facility in Flour Bluff.  Starting in 1989, Dr. Tzachi Samocha managed this facility for the Texas Agriculture Experiment Station, which later changing its name to Texas AgriLife Research, the name it’s currently using.




Information: Granvil Treece, Treece and Associates, 927 PR 1236, Lampasas, Texas 76550, USA (phone 1-979-255-6645, email gdtreece@hotmail.com).


Sources: 1.  Email to Shrimp News International.  Subject: Shrimp Mariculture Program History at Texas A&M University.  Granvil Treece.  March 8, 2015. 2. Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, March 13, 2015.

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