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The Shrimp Industry: Farming And Environment

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The Shrimp Industry:

Farming and Environment

Jina Kephart



Chef Cash

May 13, 2005

History of Shrimp Farming

The idea of shrimp farming originated way back in time, approximately 3,000 years ago (Tibbetts, A318). Chinese farmers began by raising fish in freshwater ponds and nearly 1,000 years later they began raising shellfish, especially mollusks (Tibbetts, A318). They implemented aquaculture, which is defined as the farming of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants (Tibbetts, A318).

In the 1930s, Motosaku Fujinaga, a graduate of Tokyo University, was successful in spawning kuruma shrimp and also caring for them in ponds (Rosenberry). Later on in the 1960s, he, along with a few fellow colleagues, began a shrimp farm of their own (Rosenberry). This farm did not utilize Fujinaga's original idea of a pond, but rather it was established in discarded salt beds as well as sandy beaches (Rosenberry).

During the mid-1970s, large shrimp farms were established in other countries, such as Ecuador. Yet smaller and more intense shrimp farms were established in countries such as Taiwan (Feigon, 324). These two countries in particular were the first to experience a highly profitable crop of shrimp, which was sold to the international community (Tibbetts, A321), largely to the United States, Japan and Europe. These new farms handled new and more productive species of shrimp, since, as it turns out, the species the Japanese originally spawned simply were not very productive at all (Feigon, 324).

It is reported that today there are over fifty countries worldwide that have shrimp farms (Rosenberry) of some fashion, whether it be in the form of a hatchery or that of a farm, raising fry, also known as shrimp larvae, to full maturity for commercial sale. Today, approximately 90% (Lee, A1) of the shrimp consumed here in the United States is imported from overseas, much of it coming from Thailand and Ecuador (Apple, F1).

In the 1980s, the Taiwanese dramatically impacted the shrimp industry with new techniques and procedures for farming. Taiwanese scientists made a breakthrough in artificial propagation which undoubtedly raised supplies of juvenile shrimp (Feigon, 324). In a nutshell, these scientists brought techniques utilized in tropical fish aquariums to the manmade ponds (Feigon, 324). These new types of ponds produced amounts of 10,000 kilograms of shrimp per hector, whereas the old types produced modest amounts ranging from 10 to 100 kilograms of shrimp per hector (Feigon, 324).

This success jump-started a big surge in the production of shrimp (Feigon, 324). By 1990, farm-raised shrimp accounted for nineteen percent of the total number of shrimp produced, as well as nearly all the frozen shrimp which were sold in American grocery stores (Feigon, 324). North Americans and Japanese are the leaders in shrimp consumption averaging five to nine pounds per person (Jermyn, 11).


Though the shrimp farming industry has experienced tremendous successes, it also has experienced devastation. It seems that when the good gets going, there is nothing that can stop it. That is, until disaster strikes. Some of the pioneering Asian shrimp farmers undoubtedly have dealt with the growing pains that came along with the perils of ignorance. After all, nothing is perfect whenever it is first discovered, invented or created. The success of today's shrimp farmers is due, at least in part, to learning from others' mistakes.

In the late 1980s, Taiwan experienced a major set-back in their shrimp farming market. Their farms had been wiped out by some sort of virus (Jermyn, 11). However, the Taiwanese are not alone in this matter. In the early 1990s, both China and Thailand's shrimp crops were annihilated by a virus (Jermyn, 11). What led to the spread of the virus? Basically, opportunistic governments and poor planning and management of the shrimp farms.

Shrimp farms are typically established in developing nations and as such, they are anxious to boost their economy any way they can. Government officials saw the prosperity that shrimp farming could bring with it and either did not see or chose not to see the negative impacts shrimp farming could have (Tibbetts, A321). Money talks and many blind eyes get turned in the process.

Many shrimp farms are located along the coastline, generally near estuaries, where freshwater meets with saltwater. This is also the areas where mangrove forests thrive. In order to construct their farms, the farmers cut down these forests. "Mangroves are crucial nursery areas for wild fish and shellfish, and the forests provide coastal buffers against tropical storms," (Tibbetts, A321). According to



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