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Granvil Treece and Corny Mock in 1992


Granvil Treece, aquaculture specialist at the Texas A&M University Sea Grant Program, often sends draft copies of his reports out for review before publication.  One of his draft reports contained this paragraph on the history of shrimp farming in Texas:


“Although Paul E. Heegaard attempted to spawn Penaeus setiferus  in Port Aransas, Texas, in 1953 and Gunter and Hildebrand worked with wild postlarvae (1954), shrimp culture did not actually begin in Texas until 1963 when Dr. Motosaku Funjinaga of Japan visited the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Laboratory in Galveston.  Some of the earlier published works were by Cook and Murphy in 1966 and Cook in 1969.  Harry Cook and Alice Murphy modified the Japanese technique  for rearing penaeid shrimp larvae by using conical fiberglass tanks and feeding pure cultured microscopic marine algae and diatoms.  The technique became known as the ‘Galveston Method’ and became the basis of modern shrimp hatchery development.  They were later joined by other researchers including Cornelius Mock, Bill Salser, Jim McVey and others who continued to refine the Galveston Method and spread the NMFS shrimp culture research, including intensive controlled environment production techniques.”


Corny Mock, a shrimp farming consultant, responded to the draft with these comments:


“Harry Cook and Alice Murphy did not develop the Galveston Hatchery Method and did not use conical hatchery tanks.  I should know because I was a biological aid under Harry.  Harry was duplicating the Japanese hatchery system, feeding pure cultures and changing large volumes of water.  It was only after Harry left NMFS to join Dow Chemical Company that I was made Project Leader.  Instead of growing algae in a greenhouse utilizing sunlight, I went inside and developed the system to grow algae under artificial lights at high densities.  From this I went to the high speed centrifuge and then the cream separator to concentrate and preserve algae.  It was by feeding frozen algae that I was able to figure out feeding and grazing levels (cells per ml).  It was only Alice Murphy and myself, no one else.  In fact, everyone told me that I was crazy, that the system would not work.  Even Harry came over from Dow Chemical and criticized my work.  I was lucky to have a supervisor like Dr. Richard Neal who supported me and gave me guidance.  One evening Dr. Neal told me, ‘You know Corny, you are the only person in the world who knows how to do this’.  There was a discussion with NMFS in Washington, D.C., about patenting the system.  I suggested that we publish the technique in order for it to be available to all.  I was told by an attorney that NMFS and I could have made a fortune.  I didn’t go into research to make money.”


“Harry had been using round, flat bottom, 250-gallon hatchery tanks that were a pain in the butt.  Once I figured out the hydraulics of the tank and the utilization of the air-life pump, I ordered conical tanks.  When Harry saw our new tanks, he ordered conical tanks, but with curved bottoms.  They did not work.”


“When NMFS awarded me the Bronze Medal for the development of the Galveston Method and penaeid research, people who had been my friends changed.  They also wanted a medal, and I told them to get off their butts and do something.”


“For your information, James McVey and Edward Klima never did any research on penaeid culture.”


“An experiment was performed at the Galveston facility after I had filed an official complaint against NMFS for importing non-native shrimp with no quarantine.  I was looking at a recent spawn and had seen something that I had not seen in my 11 years operating the hatchery, a number of small pyramids.  I called a friend at Texas A&M, an expert, and he told me that what I was looking at may be a virus.  I told him they were from an imported shrimp (Penaeus stylirostris) from Panama.”


Sources: 1. Texas Aquaculture: History and growth potential for the 1990s (draft).  Granvil D. Treece.  Received July 20, 1992.  2. Copy of Corny Mock’s letter to Granvil Treece dated July 18, 1992.  3. Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, Lightly Edited May 18, 2017.

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