CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Corpus Christi hosted a shrimp production technology field day recently at two Gulf Coast locations.
The morning session at the Texas AgriLife Research Mariculture Laboratory at Flour Bluff was conducted by project leader Dr. Tzachi Samocha.
Topics included the culture of microalgae for the production of biofuels and bio-products, the development of a live-bait shrimp farming industry, shrimp diets with reduced levels of fish meal and fish oil, the culture of halophytes using nutrient-rich effluent water from fish tanks for human and animal consumption (comma) and Samocha’s development of super-intensive systems for the production of food shrimp with no water exchange.
“Among the many things we have to resolve and understand in developing a zero-exchange, super-intensive raceway system is getting a better grasp and control of the
changes in the culture medium and its effect on shrimp performance, because this is a closed system. We’re using the same water over and over again, only adding fresh water to compensate for evaporation and the small amounts of water lost in the process to control bacteria,” Samocha said.
Bacteria is grown in the same water shrimp is growing to consume metabolites excreted by the shrimp, creating a bacterial biomass that can serve as supplemental feed for the shrimp, he said.
“Our research here is designed to produce fresh or live shrimp for a niche market with minimal negative environmental impacts. To make these systems more cost-effective, we’re constantly evaluating different methods to reduce operating costs.”
The results from one study in five 10,000-gallon (40 cubic meters) raceways, or tubs where shrimp are grown, that ended shortly after the field day showed high yields of up to 9.87 kilograms of shrimp per cubic meter of water and rapid growth of 1.95 grams per week. Production from four other tanks varied between 9.4 and 9.7 kilograms, Samocha said.
The afternoon session of the field day was held at the mariculture lab at Port Aransas. Project leader Dr. Addison Lawrence reviewed several projects, including super-intensive stacked raceway production, feed development and management, alternative feeds for fish meal and oil replacement. Other research he addressed included partial harvesting, feed additives for antibiotic replacement and improved production in shrimp, and sea urchin farming with probiotics, prebiotics, acidifiers and essential oils.
The Port Aransas lab has over 900 tanks and 16 raceways with 13 recirculating systems, Lawrence said.
“We provided visitors with a tour of the world’s largest shrimp and sea urchin feed and nutrition laboratory,” he said. “We emphasized the major objectives of this laboratory in what we call, ‘Shrimp Production Technologies, The New Frontiers.’”
Interest was so great that Lawrence and Jack Crockett, a research associate, discussed the new technologies with visitors until 8 p.m., although the official tour ended at 4 p.m.
“This innovative new technology, the development of a super-intensive stacked raceway system for commercial shrimp production, is the result of my 50 years of research on shrimp and marine invertebrates,” Lawrence said.
“This system is different and better than existing technology,” Lawrence said. “It is based on a new and unique raceway system design using shallow water of less than 20 centimeters, or about 8 inches. A patent is pending for both the system and the new feeds, resulting in the greatest reported production in the world of up to 1 million pounds of shrimp per acre of footprint water, or 2 acres of land.”
Production levels are based upon maintaining constant ideal production conditions that can satisfy organic requirements under stringent biosecure procedures, with no major risk of disease, Lawrence said.
“These production conditions can use zero, reduced, recirculating and/or flow-through water systems, depending on site requirements,” he said. “Also of significance is that this production system is environmentally friendly and can be placed near every major metropolitan area in the United States, providing a supply of live, fresh-dead or fresh-frozen shrimp from very large, which is referred to as the U15 count, to 26 to 30 count, with each shrimp weighing 1.1 ounces to .5 ounces, respectively, every day of the year.”
Dr. Juan Landivar, center director, said the field day provided an excellent opportunity to present new shrimp technologies that are many years in the making.
“The work of Dr. Samocha and Dr. Lawrence represents extraordinary progress in our efforts to develop new technologies to revive the food- and bait-shrimp industries in Texas and the United States,” he said.
Competition from foreign imports and limited domestic shrimping has resulted in U.S. shrimp imports of approximately $4 billion annually, about 90 percent of what is consumed, Landivar said.
“We are at maximum sustained yield, meaning we cannot catch any more shrimp, and we haven’t been able to produce more than one shrimp crop annually using traditional methods,” he said. “So, the answer is to develop new technologies to grow shrimp bigger, faster and stronger in indoor facilities year round to help make us competitive.”
For more information, contact Samocha at Flour Bluff at 361-937-2268 or 361-728-3560, or email@example.com.
At Port Aransas, contact Lawrence at 361-749-4625, extension 223, or 361-443-6921, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, Patty Beasley at 361-749-4625, ext. 221, or email@example.com.