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March 23, 2014

United States

Texas—Global Blue Technologies



Few or no objections were raised recently when Global Blue Technologies’ (GBT), a shrimp farm on Copano Bay, inflated an imposing white tent the length of three football fields.   Looking like one of those enclosed air-conditioned athletic practice fields, the structure measures 1,150 feet long and 155 feet wide.


  To view a video of the first module being inflated, click here.  


On January 28, 2014, Global Blue Technologies completed construction on its first full-scale commercial module for the production of shrimp, after testing its technology for eight years at a pilot farm in Port Isabel, Texas.  The first module will produce over 625,000 pounds of 35 to 65-gram shrimp annually.  It is the first of sixteen modules with a targeted production of 10 million pounds of shrimp annually by late 2017.  Construction on the second module is currently underway and is projected to be complete in April 2014.


Global Blue’s mission is to establish an ethical, environmentally sustainable and globally competitive American shrimp farming industry.  After more than a decade of research and an investment in excess of $80 million, it has created a commercially viable, bio-secure, recirculating aquaculture system for the production of colossal and extra colossal, organic Penaeus vannamei.


By 2017, company officials plan to employ about 60 workers.  If all goes well, they also plan to build a shrimp processing plant in a few years that could employ between 200 and 600 workers.


Aransas County Judge Burt Mills said he is aware of the zero-discharge project and has received no complaints about it.  Company officials say Global Blue will discharge nothing into the bay.


The farm uses a sophisticated multi-chambered biofilter to cleanse the water in its ponds.  Housed within two adjacent buildings, the massive filter services the 16 ponds.  After impurities are either removed or neutralized, the water will be recirculated back into the ponds said John Harvin, the company’s aquaculture operations director and construction supervisor.  “A lot of this technology is off the shelf,” said Harvin, who earned a graduate degree in aquaculture at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.  “And much of it was borrowed from municipal wastewater treatment facilities.  Some of it came from Europe, which is way ahead of the United States in aquaculture technology.”


The ponds are built 12 feet above sea level, which is 5 feet above the 100-year floodplain and the tent-like buildings are built to withstand winds of up to 120 mph.  In the event of a hurricane, they can be deflated to protect the ponds and prevent their contents from spilling into the bay.  No chemical supplements, drugs or antibiotics will be used, Harvin said.  Periodically, the uneaten food, shells and other waste from the pond filters will be recycled.  The biggest part of the waste will be molted shrimp shells, which can be sold for use in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.


Water to fill the ponds will come from Copano Bay.  It will be pumped at the rate of 80 gallons per minute to fill the ponds, each of which has a capacity of 3,100 cubic meters.  It takes four days to fill a single pond.  When evaporation leaves a pond too salty, Harvin will bring it back into balance with freshwater from a well.


Robert Adami, Jr., a natural resources specialist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, said Global Blue has gone well beyond the environmental safeguards required of Texas aqua farms.  “I’ve seen many aquaculture facilities and this one has really taken extra steps in security, water use, environmentally friendly features and biosecurity,” Adami said.  “And it has what most of us like to see—no discharge.”  Because humidity and temperature will be controlled in the buildings, evaporation will be minimal.  Adami said the amount of bay water used at the farm would be negligible, with little or no impact on the ecosystem.


Global Blue’s Chief Executive Officer David Wills is listed on the company’s website as an avid outdoorsman and fly fisherman with a deep respect for nature.  Stephen White, Global Blue’s director of operations, said, “We will operate as good stewards of the community and stewards of the environment.”


Information: Global Blue Technologies.


Sources: 1.  Rockport-Area Shrimp Farm May Revolutionize Aquaculture Industry/Aquaculture Venture Builds No-Discharge Dryland PondsDavid Sikes (phone 1-361-886-3616, email), March 23, 2014.  2. Global Blue Technologies’ Webpage, March 23, 2014.

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