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Northern Ireland

A Tribute to David Griffith 1961–2016



On February 21, 2016, David Griffith, a shrimp farming consultant that worked in Ecuador, Venezuela, Belize and most recently Saudi Arabia, wrote: Friends, about a month ago I choked while having lunch, not a terribly unusual event in itself, but after a couple of weeks of tests and scans, it turned out that I have esophageal cancer.  The disease so far has not metastasized, and the tumor itself is relatively small, so it appears that I am in time to deal with it successfully.  To do that, however, means that I had to return to Northern Ireland to start chemo and have surgery, and sadly will be sidelined for about six months.  About time I had a vacation!


On May 18, 2016, Griffith wrote: A quick update…met yesterday with the oncologist after the last CT scan.  The tumor has shrunk, and so have the lymph nodes, or in fact are not visible.  So, the first three rounds of chemo seem to be working!  Three rounds to go…fingers crossed!


On September 4, 2016, Ariffin Mamat, Director Corporate Support at the National Aquaculture Group (NAQUA) in Saudi Arabia, where Griffith was working when the cancer was diagnosed, posted to The Shrimp List: Dear All, we have learned with regret and sadness about the death of David Griffith, former Director of Shrimp Business and former member of NAQUA’s Leadership Team.  David joined NAQUA in June 2013 and in February 2016, when he was diagnosed with cancer, he decided to seek medical treatment in his home country, Northern Ireland.


Today, we received confirmation from David’s son about David’s sudden death on August 31, 2016, in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  According to his son, it was a very sudden and unexpected death as David was reacting positively to medical treatments.


“David will be remembered for his contributions to the shrimp business especially in setting up technical and people capabilities following the introduction of new species, like Penaeus vannamei.  We join his friends and the whole NAQUA team to convey our most sincere condolences to David’s family.”  Source: The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers).  Subject: Announcement on David Griffith's Death.  September 4, 2016.  Ariffin Mamat, Director Corporate Support, National Aquaculture Group, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Mobile +966-0-55-6010-707, Phone +966-17-732-9109, email ariffin.mamat@naqua.com.sa<mailto:ariffin.mamat@naqua.com.sa, Skype ariffin.mamat Webpage http://www.naqua.com.sa).



The Shrimp Book


David contributed a chapter to Dr. Victoria Alday-Sanz’s The Shrimp Book, arguably the best reference book (920 pages and 33 chapters) on shrimp farming ever written.  David’s chapter, titled “White Spot and Tara Syndrome Viruses: Disease as Drivers in the Shrimp Farming Industry”, appears in the section on Shrimp Production Systems and is as relevant today as when first published in 2010.



News Items by David Griffith That Appeared in Shrimp News Over the Years


Yesterday, I searched the Shrimp News database for reports that mentioned David and found 33, most of them were items that he submitted to The Shrimp List in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.  Following are excerpts from some of those reports (from oldest to newest):


September 8, 1988: I am writing in response to a recent article about episodes of unexplained mortalities in Taiwanese growout.  A very similar situation has been experienced by farmers in Ecuador with laboratory-reared postlarvae.


Apart from elevated mortalities during growout, affected shrimp are symptomized by rostral, antennal and abdominal deformities.  Rostra are generally bent or twisted, antennae appear singed and abdomens are ridged at segments.  The percentage of these deformities varies greatly from pond to pond, but generally drops during the growout cycle, believed to correlate to the greater mortality of affected shrimp in relationship to the total stock.


It is clear that there is a strong relationship between the occurrence of deformed shrimp and their source because deformities are rarely, if ever, observed in populations of wild-caught postlarvae.  However, not all hatcheries present equal levels of deformities in growout, nor do different production cycles from individual hatcheries.


Fingers have been pointed at many different areas of both farm and hatchery processes: antibiotic use, water treatment, nutrition of larvae, broodstock, growout and acclimatization.  It appears that nauplii source (from wild gravid females, as opposed to maturation) plays an important part in the problem, as postlarvae from gravid females tend to produce much less deformity in the growout period.  The farm itself also plays a major role in the problem, as the symptoms do not appear in general until the shrimp reach about eight grams, though occasionally deformities may be observed in the nursery ponds.


The point I would like to make is a call for closer contact between the hatcheries and their clients.  Both sides have important roles to play in pinpointing the cause or causes of the problem or problems, which my observations, coupled with your comments, lead me to suggest may be of worldwide proportions with import for the future of long-term shrimp farming.  Source: Correspondence from David Griffith, received September 8, 1988.


February 17, 1989: David Griffith, senior biologist at A.M. Quality Foods, a consulting firm in Ecuador, reports on a shrimp hatchery in Peru that he helped develop: We have harvested the first laboratory raised postlarvae from Biologia Tecnica, S.A. (Biotecsa).  This shrimp hatchery in northern Peru is owned by the Promaresa group, which has over 600 hectares of shrimp ponds, making it one of the largest shrimp exporters in Peru.  With this production of PLs, Promaresa becomes the first vertically integrated shrimp producer in Peru.  Bioltesca, together with A.M. Quality Foods, Inc., plans to produce five million PLs a month.  Source: Correspondence from David Griffith received February 17, 1989.


On May 28, 1999, David Griffith, production manager at Langostinos Ecuatorianos, Cia., Ltda., answered a Shrimp List question about growing shrimp at high salinities:


We operate 200 hectares of ponds that have salinities ranging from 34 to 45 parts per thousand.  Using intensive techniques in small ponds, we have harvested up to ten metric tons per hectare from them.  But, we have more problems at our oceanic sites than at our brackish sites, particularly with what appear to be Vibrios (bacteria).  Nonetheless, survivals are 20% better at the marine sites, although total biomass is about the same because the shrimp don't grow as fast.  Our feeling is that primary and secondary productivity is much lower at marine sites.  The bottom line, Ecuador favors estuarine farms.  Source: The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers).  Subject: Farming in Higher Salinities, Plankton, Quarantine.  May 28, 1999.


September 8, 1999: David Griffith, production manager on a big farm in Ecuador, posted some playful, late-night questions for José Bolivar Martinez, general manager of a big hatchery in Panama, to The Shrimp List.


You probably didn't get hit by TSV because Panama has always been a net exporter of nauplii and PLs.  But what if, by not having had TSV, you became more susceptible to WSSV?  Could this explain why Panama has had more trouble than other Central American countries in adapting to WSSV?  Would the solution be to actively infect Panamanian shrimp with TSV prior to exposure to WSSV?  If you need any TSV positive nauplii, I'm sure we could find some for you!  Source: The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers).  Subject: Imports and Exports.  May 28, 1999.


January 6, 2011: Does anyone have information on densities achievable in polychaete production systems?  Other than one study in the journal Aquaculture(Palmer, P., Polychaete Assisted Sand Filter, Volume 306, Pages 369-377, 2010), which estimates production at between 300 and 400 grams per square meter, I haven’t found much else.  By the way, that’s three to four metric tons per hectare, pretty impressive considering the systems were fed only the effluent water from shrimp ponds!  Source: The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers).  Subject: Imports and Exports.  January 6, 2011.


June 20, 2011: The claim that—“If it’s grown in a third world country then it must be more environmentally damaging than the shrimp grown in the USA”—is false.


And so is the claim—“It’s because of environmental protection laws that USA growers can’t compete”, which gets repeated in different formats ad nauseum without a lot of evidence.


Extensive farms (in Ecuador and Honduras, for example) built on otherwise useless land use very little energy and fishmeal and get good FCRs.  They are probably just as environmentally friendly as small intensive operations.  Source: The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers).  Subject: Belize Gone and Biofloc Technology.  June 20, 2011.


May 27, 2014: This four-minute video contains some great shots of Belizean shrimp farms, hatcheries—and farmers, including David Griffith (50 seconds into the video), Belize Aquaculture, Ltd. (David has left BAL and now works for the National Aquaculture Group in Saudi Arabia).  Source: YouTube.  Donor Coordination Gives Big Boost to Belize Shrimp Farms.  May 27, 2014.


In August 2014, Shrimp News submitted the following question to The Shrimp List: Where can someone get training to become a shrimp farmer?  Griffith responded.  “Bob, I think your question should have been ‘I want to become a shrimp farmer.  Who should I see?  A psychologist or a psychiatrist.’” 


Source: Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News Internationall.  August 16, 2014.


We’ll miss you David!


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