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The 2000–2007 Bubble in USA Farmed Shrimp Production

 

This discussion took place on The Shrimp List, a mailing list for the global shrimp farming industry.

 

Roger Kelso (rkelso@saltcreekshrimp.com): Hi Shrimpers, what caused the 2000–2007 bubble in USA farmed shrimp production?

 

 

Granvil Treece (gdtreece@hotmail.com): More farms entering industry caused the bubble.

 

Today, shrimp farming is a very risky business in the United States, and poor quality seedstock has resulted in low pond survivals.  Farms across the USA are getting 20 to 30% survivals, compared to a 50% average only a few years back.  A number of farms lost money in 2016.

 

The largest farm in Texas uses an indoor, biofloc nursery to head start its larvae so that it can produce two crops a year at its 350-acre farm.  It produces small shrimp, but doesn’t face the chronic mortality that affects the other shrimp farms in the state, producing one crop over a long growout season.

 

Durwood Dugger (ddugger@biocepts.com, http://www.biocepts.com/BCI/Home.html): Roger, Granvil and everyone else tuning into this discussion: My take on the USA spike in production from 2000 to 2007 is a little different than Granvil’s.  The USA bubble resulted from the global drop in production caused by the spread of the whitespot virus in Asia and Latin America.  It pushed prices up and encouraged more USA entrepreneurs to get into the shrimp farming.

 

In general, I have noticed a correlation between international shrimp disease outbreaks, which cause shrimp shortages and increased prices, and new shrimp farms, especially farms with recirculating aquaculture systems (RASs), both in the USA and abroad.  Unfortunately, neither the shrimp price increases nor these entrepreneur forays into RAS have produced enough long-lived public or private sustained research efforts to overcome RAS’s economic deficiencies—yet.  When disease outbreaks cool off and production returns, shrimp prices drop, margins tighten, and the small-scale and economically inefficient shrimp RAS ventures are usually forced to close their doors.

 

Granvil Treece (gdtreece@hotmail.com): Roger, another thing that contributed to the expansion (“bubble” as you call it) of USA shrimp farming expansion was the United States Department of Agriculture’s Marine Shrimp Farming Program’s contribution of disease resistant animals.  In Texas, we had no occurrence of the Taura virus after 2004 and no occurrence of the whitespot virus after 1995.

 

Durwood, in my opinion, the biggest contributing factor to the drop in USA production, after its peak of 12 million pounds in 2003, was the drop in shrimp prices.  Farmers began to lose money.

 

Jim Wyban (jim.wyban@gmail.com): Genetics and broodstock supply were a major stimulant to USA shrimp production in the early 2000s.  My company, High Health Aquaculture (HHA), was the exclusive supplier of specific pathogen free (SPF) broodstock to Texas’s Harlingen Shrimp Farm (HSF) from 1993-2003.  HSF was the exclusive postlarvae supplier to the industry throughout that period.  Our fast-growing, Taura-virus-resistant (TVR) stock had a lot to do with the jump in production in the USA from 1998 to 2003.  Using our TVR stock, the USA industry grew about 20% per year.  In 2003, we had a pricing dispute with HSF, and it stopped buying our animals.  From then on, it got its broodstock from Shrimp Improvement Systems or the Oceanic Institute.  A similar phenomenon happened a few years later in Thailand.  From 2003 to 2009, HHA was the main supplier of SPF broodstock to Thailand and production grew from zero Penaeus vannamei production to 600,000 metric tons.

 

Donelson Burger (donelsonberger@sbcglobal.net): USA shrimp imports went from 331,444 metric tons in 1999 to 504,493 tons in 2003, an increase of 52%.  This was the result of Asian farmers switching from P. monodon to P. vannamei.  USA shrimp farmers were no different from the Asian farmers: they saw an opportunity to greatly increase output and pursued it.  At the same time, the dumping duties on shrimp imports in 2003 appeared to create an opportunity for domestic farmers to seize market share.  But it was soon evident that the duties action did nothing to stem the tide of shrimp imports, and by 2006, imports were 590,299 tons, an increase of 17% over 2003 and 78% over 1999.

 

John Birkett (jbirkett42@yahoo.com): Durwood, you are right.  In 2001, shrimp prices were at record highs due to the outbreak of whitespot in the Americas.  Ecuador’s shrimp farming industry survived because prices were so high, even though pond survivals were only 12%.  By 2003-2004 prices plummeted as production increased with the development of whitespot-tolerant broodstock.

 

Sources: 1. The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers).  Subject: Shrimp Production in 2016 and Some Other Data.  January 24 to 26, 2017. 2. Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, January 27, 2017.

 

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