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Early History and Pioneers of Freshwater Prawn Aquaculture


From Abstract: Prawns of the genus Macrobrachium, including M. rosenbergii, M. nipponense, and a few other species are now farmed around the world, with a total product value of around $2.2 billion annually.  This paper reviews some of the, practitioners and early history of prawn culture R&D.  Prawn farming began in the late 1960s with the groundbreaking work of Shao-wen Ling, of the FAO, who worked in Penang, Malaysia.  Ling discovered that the larval stages of M. rosenbergii required brackish water for development to postlarvae.


Ling’s work inspired Takuji Fujimura of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Anuenue Fisheries Research Station (AFRC) in Honolulu, who imported broodstock supplied by Ling and developed large-scale larval culture technology.  This advance provided juveniles in sufficient numbers for the first pond field trials conducted by Fujimura.  The trials showed that commercial pond culture was feasible.  Because of Fujimura’s work, AFRC became a leader in prawn culture, and many people came to Hawaii for training in larval and pond culture techniques.  Fujimura’s practical approach was advanced by basic and applied research by Spencer Malecha and his colleagues and students from the University of Hawaii, whose research program was centered at the AFRC and focused on genetics, behavior, and culture technologies to better manage the prawn growth pattern.  Prawn aquaculture R&D spread rapidly to the mainland USA, where in the early 1970’s the team of Paul Sandifer and Theodore Smith and their co-workers at the South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department (now the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources) conducted pioneering investigations on the life history, reproductive biology, behavior, nursery technology and pond culture of M. rosenbergii in temperate-zone environments.  This work was extended by Louis D’Abramo and colleagues in Mississippi and Louisiana, and by James Tidwell at Kentucky State University, whose work further advanced commercial temperate-zone culture technologies.


Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, research by Israeli scientists Dan Cohen, Zivia Ra’aan, Ilan Karplus and Amir Sagi elucidated the ontogeny and unique size variation and corresponding morphotypes in prawn populations, leading to improvement of management practices.  Another early practitioner, Rogene Thompson, moved to Mauritius from the United States and established prawn farming there.


Today, most of the world’s production of Macrobrachium prawns comes from Asia.  Prawn culture increased dramatically in Thailand and later in China and other areas of Southeast Asia, in part through the support of international organizations and especially via the enduring efforts of Michael New of the United Kingdom.  Over several decades, New worked with many associates, including Somsuk Singholka, Wagner Valenti, C.M. Nair, and M.N. Kutty, to promote development of prawn aquaculture and edited the most recent review, Freshwater Prawns: Biology and Farming, in 2010.  Prawn farming has experienced remarkable growth, increasing greater than 157-fold between the Giant Prawn conferences in 1980 and 2011.


Sources: 1. The Thumb Drive Containing the Abstracts from Aquaculture 2013 (February 21-25, 2013, Nashville, Tennessee, USA).  Information: John Cooksey, World Aquaculture Conference Management, P.O. Box 2302, Valley Center, California 92082, USA (phone 1-760-751-5005, fax 1-760-751-5003, email worldaqua@aol.com).  Early History and Pioneers of Freshwater Prawn Aquaculture.  Paul Sandifer (paul.sandifer@noaa.gov, NOAA, Hollings Marine Laboratory, 331 Fort Johnson Road, Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA) Louis D’Abramo, Spencer Malecha and James Tidwell.  February 2013. 2. Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, July 1, 2013.


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