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Aquaculture equipment supplier Lippert tells of amazing shrimp tales production.

Aquaculture Equipment Supplier Lippert Tells of Amazing Shrimp Tales Production

All things being equal, a shrimp farmer can make almost four times as much raising penaeus monodon as he can raising penaeus vannamei. But all things aren't equal, so don't hold your breath.

A shrimp farmer who really knows his stuff and has the right equipment can achieve an 80% survival rate in a pond stocked with 400,000 juveniles per hectare, vs. the 40,000 he could get away with 10 years ago. But he does have to know his stuff and have the right equipment.

Shrimp farming has made remarkable strides since it was put on a commercial basis about 20 years ago (It may have been tried in China as long as 4,000 years ago), according to Lee E. Lippert, president of Lippert International, Jacksonville, Fla., U.S.A., which supplies equipment to farmers around the world.

In 1977, for example, Ecuador exported seven million pounds of shrimp, much of it ocean-caught, Lippert told the International Seafood Conference. "In 1987, Ecuador exported in excess of 100 million pounds of shrimp with a value exceeding $400 million. That was commercial success," and mostly from farm-raised product.

Not that there aren't problems with shrimp aquaculture. Taiwan, which was a shining success story a few years ago, saw its ponds decimated by some sort of disease the year before last, and still hasn't recovered. "Ecuador has other problems," Lippert noted. "For example, there is not sufficient seed to keep the ponds properly stocked. Also, competition from other countries has reduced the profit margins."

Lippert should know whereof he speaks: he arrived at Marbella, Spain, site of the conference, at the tail end of a round-the-world trip visiting shrimp farming and processing operations in China, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. "The market for shrimp is about to expand dramatically," he predicted. Thanks to abundant farm-raised species, "shrimp will compete with red meat within the next five to ten years." But falling prices aren't good news to producers in Taiwan, Thailand or the Philippines.

"The problem is that these countries seem to be determined to operate at high densities, and high density operation requires a higher price to be economically successful," he said. "Furthermore, these countries seem to have been tied to the Japanese market. When the market in Japan fell, apparently due to the producers having no place to put their product, the producers found themselves operating with little or no profit."

Taiwan's intensive aquaculture system has been a model for the rest of Southeast Asia, but its profitability had been questioned in some quarters even before the 1988 disaster. "The problems are (1) much greater investment, (2) more labor, (3) more water quality problems and (4) more equipment problems," he noted. "Shrimp farmed in extensive or semi-intensive systems have potential problems, but not to the degree of the intensive system. Basically, the system is more forgiving because the farmer is working at less critical levels of biomass every day."

Shrimp farmers faced with shrinking profit margins are looking to value-added products, but they may be biting off more than they can chew. "There is a saying in Spanish that translates substantially as follows: `A shoemaker is a shoemaker and a lawyer is a lawyer.' Maybe the farmer should do what he does best, raise shrimp; and let the seafood marketing industry do what it does best, sell shrimp." Still, Lippert suggested, "maybe the farmer will be the catalyst for getting more shrimp products in different forms into the marketplace."

More efficient operation of shrimp farms, especially in terms of water and feed, is also essential. "Due to increased world production, farmers are devoting time and effort to improved techniques in both hatchery and farm operations," he said. For both of these, "water quality and management are the most important elements of success. Work is being done in developing better understanding of water chemistry. Dramatic results have been achieved with hatchery larvae raised in improved water. These stronger, healthier juvenile shrimp are growing bigger and faster in the ponds." Important nutritional studies are also under way.

But plain know-how is essential to success. Shrimp farmers must be familiar with not only basic equipment, management techniques and so on, but with such everyday problems as how to get the feed to the shrimp. (If they won't "come and get it," better install broadcast feeders.) There are all kinds of things that can go wrong for the unwary, from diseases in the ponds to rapid deterioration of shrimp if they are harvested improperly without regard to preservation or processing.

Lippert came armed with case studies for imaginary farms of the same size (400 hectares) - one, Vannafarm, raising penaeus vannamei; the other, Monofarm, raising penaeus monodon. With virtually the same investment, the latter imaginary farm would make a profit of $7.5 million, vs. $2 million for the first. But in the real world, he later told Quick Frozen Foods International, it's not that easy. Land costs are far higher in Southeast Asia, where monodon (black tiger) shrimp are grown, than in Ecuador, where vannamei are farmed. So far, at least, black tiger shrimp don't sell especially well in much of the U.S. (as opposed to Japan) because of their pre-cooked color and chewy texture. In the future, however - who knows?

Smale's New Plant in Hull

To Double Seafood Output

A new state-of-the-art fish processing plant in Hull, England, will double the processing capacity of F. Smale & Sons, which makes the Billy Boy range of frozen foods and fish items.

Colin Smales, managing director of the Hull-based company, said his firm has already built up "probably the largest private fish processing and frozen food organization within Britain," and that the new plant will be "one of Europe's most efficient and up-to-date fish processing facilities."

Smales has also acquired two vacant plants from the Hull City Council; one of these will be for processing and packaging of fish and seafood products for retail private label and export, as well as for the Billy Boy brand. The company has 13 factory ships of its own as a source of supply, and plans to soon open more distribution depots.

PHOTO : Lee Lippert suggests that shrimp farmers should stick to what they do best - raising shrimp.
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Title Annotation:QFFI's Global Seafood Magazine; Lee E. Lippert
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jan 1, 1990
Previous Article:Asian farmed shrimp output could triple to 750,000 tons in decade, predicts Dr. Liao.
Next Article:In Southern Thailand, Aquastar gears up for state-of-the-art shrimp processing.

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