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January 22, 2015

United States

Hawaii—Notes on the Development of SPF Broodstock



Shrimp News: The following report was written by Dr. Jim Wyban, a leading consultant in shrimp breeding technology.  He is often called “the father of SPF shrimp” for his seminal role in developing and commercializing specific pathogen free (SPF) shrimp worldwide.  Wyban founded and developed the world’s first SPF shrimp breeding company in Kona, Hawaii, in 1994, which he sold to Shrimp Improvement Systems in 2012.  Currently, Dr. Wyban offers consulting services in the design and operations of commercial shrimp breeding and hatchery systems.



Dr. Wyban Writes


What’s little known is that the genetics of most of the world’s farmed shrimp starts in Hawaii.  I want to tell you about how this came about.


In the early 1980s, I was hired by Oceanic Institute (OI) to manage a large research project to help develop shrimp farming in the United States.  At the time, shrimp farming was rapidly developing in South America and Asia.  Shrimp were farmed by catching wild postlarvae in the ocean and stocking them in large ponds.  After six months of growout, they were harvested.  Demand for shrimp was huge, and the industry was expanding rapidly.  At that time, most of the world’s supply of shrimp was still coming from ocean fisheries.


It was during this stage of industry development that I went to work at the Oceanic Institute.  Others and myself were asked to identify and solve obstacles to the development of a USA shrimp farming industry.  When we met with shrimp farmers in Hawaii, Texas and South Carolina, a consistent problem emerged.  They had serious disease problems that were preventing reliable production.  We learned that the disease problems started at the hatchery stage because wild broodstock carried diseases.  In other animal production systems—pigs, chickens and cattle—disease-free, domesticated animals had solved their disease problems, so we set out to develop disease-free shrimp.  We called our shrimp “SPF”, short for “specific pathogen free”, to reflect the quarantine and certification process through which they passed.


Our first SPF shrimp were developed on the big island of Hawaii, in Kona, in 1990.  In 1991, SPF PLs were stocked in commercial farm ponds in Hawaii, Texas and South Carolina and were grown side by side with the standard PLs used by USA farmers.  In all cases, the SPF PLs far out-performed the standard PLs.  Faster growth, more uniform sizes and higher survivals were experienced in all cases.  Because of these encouraging results, we produced more SPF broodstock, and in 1992, all shrimp ponds in the USA were stocked with SPF PLs from broodstock produced in Hawaii.  The 1992 USA shrimp crop exceeded all expectations.  On every farm, production increased and total USA harvests doubled, compared to those of previous years.


These results were fantastic and had significant implications.  I went to my boss at OI and told him that there was a huge opportunity in this technology and that we should commercialize it.  He told me that OI was a research company and not interested in commercial activities.  So I quit my job, and with my wife Carol as my partner, we started High Health Aquaculture, the world’s first SPF shrimp breeding company.  We moved our family to Kona where we secured a lease at the Natural Energy Lab (NELHA) and began supplying SPF broodstock in 1993.


In just a few years, Asia shrimp farming was completely transformed from giant tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon), native to Asia, to western white shrimp (P. vannamei), native to the Americas.  The economic impact of the adoption of this technology was huge.  In 1998, world farmed shrimp production was 900,000 metric tons.  By 2010, after most of Asia’s shrimp farmers switched to SPF white shrimp, production had grown to 3.5 million tons, a 400% increase in 12 years.


Use of SPF shrimp has greatly reduced disease incidence and the use of antibiotics in the industry.  Use of SPF broodstock has reduced the spread of shrimp diseases worldwide and eliminated the industry’s practice of capturing wild animals for seedstock.


Information: Dr. Jim Wyban (email


Source: Hatchery Feed Guide and Year Book 2015 (Free Download).  Hawaii: Shrimp Breeding Capital of the World.  Jim Wyban.  Received January 20, 2015.

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