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April 14, 2014
Grupo Granjas Marinas
Brian Boudreau (firstname.lastname@example.org), Director Aquaculture Operations at Grupo Granjas Marinas (GGM), which farms, processes and markets Pacific white shrimp (Penaeus vannamei) from 6,900 hectares of ponds in Honduras, posted the following item to The Shrimp List,a mailing list for shrimp farmers:
Pond aquaculture, involving a myriad of primary and secondary food webs where free energy flows from the sun to the final target animal, is a beautiful thing and perhaps the most efficient form of aquaculture on the planet.
In many ways, open pond culture is still in its infancy, and there is still enormous untapped potential to improve the culture methodology to efficiency levels way beyond our current expectations. The greatest opportunity of all lies in mastering the multistep conversion of solar energy into shrimp biomass, which involves taking full benefit of what nature has to offer through a form of ecological engineering. GGM is leading the way with this technology.
Our ponds are complex ecologies of food webs where energy is passed from one trophic level to the next, and the more we understand this system the better culturists we will become. We are fascinated by the potential for shrimp growth from the food webs in our ponds, and our interest is drawn towards the incredible reproductive and growth capacity of the primary and secondary producers in the system.
Using sunlight, the most available source of free energy in Central America, as our energy input, we see huge positive implications for both the environment and the economics of our business, where our greatest resource is pond area. Imagine the benefits of aligning all of these synergies to minimize commercial feed usage.
Algae are the principal primary producers that convert solar energy into organic compounds, but the secondary production is where the real untapped opportunity lies because zooplankton play such an important role as carriers of energy from algae to higher trophic levels. Brine shrimp, for example, are excellent filter feeders and have the ability to convert algae into nutritionally superior feeds, and the use of live feeds has its advantages because shrimp eat only what they need. To put it into perspective, one gram of shrimp biomass can increase to three grams in 14 days, while one gram of brine shrimp can increase to a whopping 50 kilograms in the same time period.
In our ponds we convert solar energy into algae, but adult shrimp do not effectively graze on suspended algae as efficiently as specialized filter feeding zooplankton do, so we need to include this missing link in our food chain.
Background: GGM, established in the early 1970s, operates on land leased from the Honduran government. Vertically integrated, from genetic research to the production of value-added processed shrimp, it is not only Honduras’s largest shrimp operation but also the largest employer in southern Honduras, with 1,000 employees involved directly in shrimp farming and another 1,000 working in processing and packing.
The original concept behind GGM’s business ethic was to be “neighborly, decent and to treat others and the environment with respect.” This basic concept was based on the recognition that good practice would bring access to capital, operational cost savings, better staff relations, a less risky operating environment and, ultimately, new markets and high-value customers.
Sources: 1. The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers). Subject: New Frontier for Central America Shrimp Farming. April 13, 2014. 2. Background Information from Shrimp News International. June 26, 2013.
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