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Belgium—Eric De Muylder

Shrimp Feed and Biofloc Specialist

 

   

 

During January and February 2018, I conducted an email interview with Eric De Muylder, owner of CreveTec, which among other activities, has an indoor biofloc shrimp farm in Ternat, Belgium.  The farm has the capacity to produce twelve tons of fresh shrimp a year.  Before starting the shrimp farm three years ago, Eric produced hatchery and growout feeds for shrimp farmers and worked as an aquatic feed consultant.  For the past three years, he has conducted seminars on indoor biofloc shrimp farming at his farm.

 

Shrimp News: Where were you born and raised?

 

Eric De Muylder: I was born in Belgium and grew up there.

 

Shrimp News: Where did you go to college and what was your major?

 

Eric De Muylder: I went to the University of Leuven (Belgium) and studied Waters and Forestry, graduating in 1987.  Working mainly with tilapia and African catfish, I did my master’s thesis on the utilization of brewery by-products in fish feeds.

 

After, finishing my thesis, I went to work for a company in the Republic of Seychelles, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, that was starting an intensive giant tiger shrimp farm on Coëtivy Island.  I was responsible for the formulation and production of the shrimp feeds.  The company installed a new feed production line, and I made a local feed with no compromise on quality.  At the time, the farm was unique.  It used sea water, lined ponds and high stocking densities—and produced 12 metric tons per hectare per year.  My locally produced shrimp feed outperformed the imported brands and was a big contributor to the farm’s successful production.  We also exported our feed, mostly to Madagascar.

 

Shrimp News: When did you start CreveTec?

 

Eric De Muylder: In 2006.

 

Shrimp News: Why did you start with crustacean feeds when there was no crustacean farming in Europe?

 

Eric De Muylder: I started to produce shrimp feeds for intensive farming in Belgium when I was a consultant for Happy Shrimp Farm, an intensive farm in the Netherlands.  We could not find an appropriate shrimp feed in Europe, so the only option was to make one.  We used it and sold it to other shrimp farms.

 

Shrimp News: You had an early interest in biofloc shrimp farming.  What sparked your interest?

 

Eric De Muylder: During my thesis work and later experiences, I always noticed that when aquatic organisms were fed bioflocs, their growth rates improved—and I never forgot that.  So when biofloc shrimp farming started, I was interested from the very beginning.

 

Shrimp News: About ten years ago, I remember hearing something about you selling your feeds into Iran.  How did that happen?

 

Eric De Muylder: I wasn’t selling my feeds to Iran.  I partnered with an Iranian shrimp farmer, and we found a local feed mill to produce my formulations.  CreveTec provided technical assistance and concentrated feed ingredients.

 

Shrimp News: Do you or did you have your own lab to research shrimp feeds?

 

Eric De Muylder: Yes, as part of my farm in Belgium, I am doing feed research for third parties and myself.  I can do growth trials, digestibility trials, attractability trials and challenge tests.  This research gives me a lot of information about raw materials and additives that allows me to continuously adapt and improve my feed formulations.  I am now producing a shrimp feed with less than 10% fishmeal and no soybean meal.  I also produce a feed without marine proteins, which performs as well as a feed with 20% fishmeal.  The knowledge that I gain from research is used to improve the nutritional supplements that I market.

 

   

 

Shrimp News: You call your shrimp farming system “CreveTope”?  How’s it doing?

 

Eric De Muylder: It’s successful in the sense that I can maintain the quality of water for consecutive production cycles.  I can maintain ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels, ionic balance and alkalinity without adding carbon or bicarbonate.  I have used the same water for three years now.

 

However—the production of shrimp in Europe faces one big problem: the supply of postlarvae is not good.  The European Union only allows imports from the United States.  The quality of postlarvae and the stress they endure during transport result in unacceptable survival rates.

 

To make shrimp farming in Europe successful, we need some hatcheries.

 

Shrimp News: Was your attempt to sell larval and started feeds successful?

 

Eric De Muylder: Yes and No.  I am regularly producing PL feeds for dedicated customers in Mexico, India, Iran and Taiwan, but I am facing a lot of issues getting my feeds into other countries.  Each country seems to have its own specific requirements (analysis of antibiotics, shrimp diseases, heavy metals), which cost a lot, especially for trial orders.

 

Shrimp News: How’s your shrimp farm doing?  Are you able to get good PLs?  Where do you get them?  Did Shrimp Improvement System’s PLs ever improve?

 

Eric De Muylder: After major quality issues at the end of 2015 with SIS postlarvae, I switched to PLs from Global Blue Technologies, which unfortunately was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.

 

Shrimp News: Have your seminars and farm tours created any interest in shrimp farming in Europe?

 

Eric De Muylder: Yes, a lot of interest.  But people are reluctant to invest in shrimp farming until they see some success stories.

 

Shrimp News: What is it going to take to get shrimp farming started in Europe?

 

Eric De Muylder: Good quality postlarvae.  I still believe in shrimp farming because we can produce a fresh shrimp with exceptional quality that’s superior to imported frozen shrimp.  So shrimp farmers in Europe should not be worried about competition from Asia or South America.  It is merely a question of getting better survival rates from PLs.

 

Shrimp News: Have you been working on any exciting shrimp farming projects around the world that I don’t know about?  Can you tell me about them?

 

Eric De Muylder: Yes, I am working on some nifty projects, but at the moment, they are still confidential.

 

Shrimp News: What are your plans for the future?

 

Eric De Muylder: I will continue working on improving my feeds.  My main goal is to find more shrimp feed producers who want to tie up with me and apply my formulations and knowhow to their feeds.  I am looking for partners in other countries.

 

Shrimp News: Please comment on the present state of shrimp feeds around the world.  Do the non-fishmeal diets work?

 

Eric De Muylder: If you have the freedom to use alternative ingredients, it’s easy to produce a shrimp feed without fishmeal.  However, replacing fishmeal with standard vegetable proteins like soybean meal will not work.  The solution is to use dedicated animal proteins, elevated vegetable proteins, bacterial proteins and insect meals.

 

Shrimp News: Are there any new developments in shrimp feeds that we don’t know about?

 

Eric De Muylder: I think the major shrimp feed producers are investing in vegetable proteins that are more digestible.  Also, there is a lot of focus on gut health, trying to reduce Vibrio in the intestine and increasing resistance to pathogens.

 

Shrimp News: Would you like to make some comments on the future of shrimp farming and shrimp feeds?

 

Eric De Muylder: We need to find ways to produce shrimp without affecting the environment!  This could be by semi-intensive farming with high water exchange rates in areas where the environment can absorb all the nutrients, but I believe the future will be to reduce water exchange and optimize nutrient recycling.  And of course, feeds that result in lower FCRs would help a lot.

 

Information: Eric De Muylder, CreveTec, Heirbaan 56A, 1740 Ternat, Belgium (phone +32-473-721004, email eric@crevetec.be, webpages http://www.crevetec.be, https://www.facebook.com/ericsgambas and http://www.ericsgambas.be).

 

Source: Eric De Muylder.  Email Interview by Bob Rosenberry at Shrimp News International.  January/February 2018.

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