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United States

Texas—Global Blue Technologies

 

   

 

This report is based primarily on an article that appeared in the February/March 2017 issue of Aquaculture Magazine.

 

Global Blue Technologies (GBT), an indoor, super-intensive, zero-water-exchange shrimp farm in Taft, Texas, is one of two major postlarvae-providing companies in the United States.

 

Eduardo Figueras was recently named chief executive officer of GBT.  He has been involved in the project since its early stages, and he’s responsible for the development of GBT’s genetic lines.  “This year we are in an adjustment process.  Currently, we produce 7 kg/m2, and our goal is to reach 15 kg/m2,” said Figueras.

 

Located on Copano Bay, Texas, GBT has four production modules, covered with inflated and imposing white domes that house 32 ponds (each approximately 1,600 m2).  The domes allow year-round production and consecutive cycles of 140 days.  The ponds are stocked with PL-12s from GBT’s hatchery at a stocking density of 150 PLs/m2.  GBT has achieved an average survival rate of 68% and a feed conversion ratio of 1.87.

 

GBT has harvested shrimp at an average size of 39 grams!  At present, the farm’s production cost is $4.25 a pound, which is significantly higher than the production costs in Latin America and Southeast Asia.  However, GBT has achieved a selling price of $10.45 a pound for its “Copano Blues Shrimp”® tails, which provides a good profit margin.  Customers in Japan considered GBT’s tails to be sushi grade (an unofficial term used by stores and restaurants to refer to the highest quality of seafood offered in the market).

 

The Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) used at GBT is a modular biosecure system that requires no chemical or antibiotic additives.  It uses biofloc technology, which reduces feed costs and accelerates growth.  In addition, water heaters are used to maintain temperature.  All the water that enters the system is treated and recirculated.

 

CEO Eduardo Figueras says: “Over time, we have discovered that the domes are wonderful, but they also have certain complications that make automation harder.  For example, changes in temperature during winter and the high humidity levels inside make it difficult to have electrical equipment indoors.  We have adapted the design to our conditions.  Each dome is different and better than the previous one.”

 

An aeration system, activated by oxygen probes, was installed recently.  However, feeding automation has not yet been achieved; it continues to be accomplished using feeding trays.

 

 

GBT’s Broodstock and Seedstock

 

GBT has developed a genetic line of specific-pathogen-free (SPF) P. vannamei.  Sea Product Development (SPD) is GBT’s genetics development center and core hatchery.  SPD facilities are housed within air-inflated domes and have the capability of producing over 300,000 broodstock, 300 million nauplii and 200 million postlarvae (PLs) annually.

 

The genetic program is designed to produce two distinct lines, one for stress resistance to high-density stocking and the other for growth.  Each family produced is challenged in laboratory and field conditions.  The best performing families are selected and become the next generation of pure lines.  The combination of these two genetic lines generates crossbred animals that integrate the best growth and resistance characteristics.  These hybrids become SPD’s broodstock.

 

SPD is one of only two companies in the world that has genetic lines that are 100% free of all the viruses listed by the World Organisation for Animal Health.  To maintain this status, the University of Arizona Aquaculture and Pathology Laboratory monitors SPD’s broodstock for diseases on a monthly basis.  The United States Department of Agriculture also certifies SDP’s larvae quality for export to Europe.  In mid-2015, the company got approval for selling broodstock to India, a country known for its strict restrictions on broodstock importation and commercialization.

 

 

All-Female Shrimp Production

 

Many crustacean species exhibit a bimodal growth pattern, where females grow larger than males or vice versa.  In P. vannamei, it has been demonstrated that females grow up to 25% larger than males and have lower FCRs.  Therefore, the production of an all-female population is desirable.  Currently, SPD is seeking to partner with a company in Israel that has successfully developed the technology to produce all-male freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii).  SPD hopes to develop this technology for P. vannamei females.  “At SPD, we want to differentiate ourselves, do what no one else is doing,” said Figueras.  “The path is already there; we just have to adapt the technology to P. vannamei.  We expect to achieve this in the next 1-2 years.  What are the benefits?  Well, first, culturing only females allows a reduction in the disparity of sizes.”  For example, in ponds with both sexes, when the females average 28-30 grams, the males barely reach 22 grams.

 

 

GBT in Japan

 

Currently, GBT is working on building a second genetic development center on Yonaguni Island, the westernmost island of Japan.  Construction is expected to start at the end of 2017.  The site in Japan is intended to supply the increasing demand for broodstock in Asian, estimated at nearly 300 thousand animals a year.

 

Shrimp News: Criminal charges have been filed against David K. Wills, one of the principals in GBT.  Wills is now in Federal custody and is likely to be in prison for 15 years to life.  I checked in with Granvil Treece, a shrimp farming consultant in Texas, for an opinion on the current staff at GBT.

 

Treece said, “The Global Blue folks are great.”  Eduardo Figueras and Margaret Barlow (PL sales manager) formerly worked at Shrimp Improvement Systems in Florida.  John Harvin, the backbone of Global Blue’s construction in Texas, graduated from Texas A&M University and used Texas A&M’s larval tanks to do the research for his Master’s degree on red drum, a fin fish.  His son also works for GBT.  They are all good people.

 

Information: Eduardo Figueras, Global Blue Technologies LLC, 521 West Market Street, Suite D, Rockport, Texas 78382, USA (Phone 1-361-450-1658, Email info@globalbluetechnologies.com, Website www.globalbluetechnologies.com). Broodstock and Postlarvae Sales: Margaret Barlow (Email mbarlow169@yahoo.com, Phone 1-361-205-2955).

 

Sources: 1. Aquaculture Magazine (Editor, Greg Lutz, glutz@agcenter.lsu.edu).  Global Blue Technologies Approaching an Aquaculture Industry Differently.  Volume 43, Number 1, Page 32, February-March 2017.  2. Global Blue Technologies’ Website.  July 18, 2017.  3. Email from Granvil Treece (gdtreece@hotmail.com) at Treece Associates.  Subject: Global Blue.  July 17, 2017.  4. Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, July 18, 2017.

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