Captain Ray on inland shrimp farming
QUANTUM LEAPS IN SHRIMP FARMING AQUACULTURE COMING SOON TO BELIZE?
Shrimp farms in Belize follow the late model of being located along the seashore. The new technology in shrimp farm aquaculture, is that you can locate them far inland; even in the Chiquibul, or on the VACA Plateau. Far inland away from the salt water.
While shrimp are a salt water species, you can train them to acclimatize to fresh water and this dynamic has changed the whole premise of shrimp farm aquaculture. Shrimp are lucky to be in a market, in which the demand is greater than the supply. You can sell all the quality shrimp you can produce!
You can take a disease-resistant, strain of Pacific White Shrimp and through selective breeding, a bit like hybrid seeds, or creating race horses, grow the biggest baddest fastest growing shrimp anywhere. The new technology is heavy on labratory type conditions during the early stages of the life cycle. People and vehicles are disinfected when entering the premises. Breeding shrimp are imported to a warm dark greenhouse with big tanks of heated water, sort of like a shrimp hot tub.
Darkness is artificially introduced and the shrimp get frisky and sexy and the breeders mate.
The females when ready to spawn are moved to pens of heated water in another location, where each shrimp produces roughly 100,000 eggs. These are the size of a grain of sand. Containers of fine mesh transfer the eggs to covered fiberglass heated fiberglass tanks were the water is aerated, filtered and recirculated. The first stage larvae are fed diatoms. Sort of unicellular algae. It’s like a powder and comes in sacks. A solar powered food-production room is filled with brown flasks of gurgling liquid. In about 17 days, the larvae resemble baby shrimp.
From there, the babies are moved to nurseries, where they stay for a month, growing to an inch in length. After that, they are transferred to your standard ponds. Each pond has it’s own waste water pond through which water is recycled and returned to production. Salinity is adjusted through additives. A four acre pond will produce a million shrimp now in fresh water. The shrimp are fed a mixture of organic wheat, soy with vitamins, organic marine meal, and amino acid rich oils. In about 4 months, the shrimp are ready to be harvested.
The secret is the discovery that shrimp while needing to be reproduced in salt water can be acclimatized to fresh water. You eliminate the contaminants and pollution of sea side shrimp farms, such as found in Belize. Or the dead waste fish discards from shrimp trawling. With the oceans being depleted of marine species and human populations going to jump from 6 billion to 8 billion people over the next 15 years, the market for shrimp is huge and insatiable. Aquaculture is replacing the oceans for sources of marine products.
The biggest baddest 1500 acre shrimp farm in the world is now in Hendry County, Florida, seventy miles from either sea coast. It is called Ocean Boy Farms and was created by David McMahon ten years ago, who studied at Nova University Oceanographic Center. More details can be found in the Miami Herald newspaper in section 12 E, written by Linda Bladholm.
Ray Auxillou is from Caye Caulker and now is retired in Hillview in the Cayo District. He is the author of the only reference text in existence on Belize Commercial Fish species, published in his 20’s, back in the mid 1960’s, when he taught village school at Caye Caulker.