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March 13, 2014


Daniel Gruenberg on EMS


With all the shrimp farms in the world, why am I the only one talking about early mortality syndrome (EMS)?  This has baffled me since the beginning.  In Thailand, in early 2013, I predicted at least a 50% drop in production.  This prediction was met with vehement denial.  Well the 2013 numbers are in, and it appears I was wrong.  I owe the world an apology.  The drop was 70%.


Financial analysts would have you believe that there is no EMS in Thailand, that there was no cold spell in Thailand (despite official meteorological department records to the contrary) and that everything is getting better.  Well there is no way that I can say that EMS is getting better.  What farmers have learned to use various management methods and then roll the dice on their next crop.  Prices are so high for small sizes that if you can keep your crop alive for six to eight weeks and then harvest, you can make money.


Just because you add probiotics and other things to your pond and then harvest five to ten-gram animals, can you call that a recover?  I don’t think so.


Patrick Sorgeloos, the famous brine shrimp researcher, published a paper that says the more your attempt to sterilize your pond, the more you exacerbate the EMS problem.


EMS is the end of the road for SPF shrimp farming.  The problem is that there are a lot of vested interests in SPF methodology and literally billions of dollars at stake.  A new paradigm is coming to shrimp farming and farmers will either have to change or die.


I talk with feed mills, and even the large ones in Thailand are only operating a maximum of two days a week.  Nobody is selling #4 feed or larger.  I talk with postlarvae suppliers, and they say their production is down 40%.  The processors that I spoke with say that they are running at 20% capacity.  None of these numbers are getting better.  Some packers are importing material from neighboring countries and showing some improvement in their export numbers.  Prices are coming down a bit, not because production is increased, but because of the absence of buyers at high prices levels and lack of the large shrimp that buyers want.


I invite anyone to come to Thailand and do a real assessment and prove me wrong.  So far, the only error I have made is in underestimating the situation.


The eerie silence about the EMS situation in Indian emphasizes my admonishment that we need to openly share accurate information.  Vietnam says everything is getting better, too, but again, I don’t see it.  Perhaps this is another example of imported raw material giving the impression that production is increasing.


EMS will be solved.  I am confident about that.  But it will take at least another year or two, maybe more, to reach pre-EMS production in Thailand. Eventually, Thailand will be producing nearly a million metric tons of farmed shrimp a year—but the paradigm will be completely different from today.


Source: The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers).  Subject: What Is New with EMS.  March 10, 2014.

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