Vannamei Shrimp Farming, not detrimental to environment or health, say, experts
In the wake of several print media reports firing warning shots across the bows to Vannamei Shrimp (King Prawn) farming, Taprobane Seafood Group -- Sri Lanka’s largest seafood company with a strength of over 1,200 direct employees and eight processing facilities -called for a press briefing last Sunday (13) at Akash Hotel in Mannar to enlighten the attendees on the entire practice and socio-economic concerns over Vannamei Shrimp farming.
According to the officials at Taprobane Seafood, recent media backlash that ignited outrage amongst everyone from the fisherfolk to the common man has been based on unfounded rumours so much so that people have already developed an aversion to pathogen-free Vannamei shrimp, which provenly does not have any adverse health effects.
“We deem the negative criticism received is solely due to unawareness of Vannamei Shrimp farming. We are extremely concerned about the safety of shrimps and have an obligation to act for the benefit of the society at large.“All our ponds are lined with High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) sheets even though our land and groundwater are salty/sour.
“We use probiotics in the culture pond itself. They are beneficial bacteria, which have a very short lifespan of 5-7 days. These probiotics utilise the shrimp’s digested waste, uneaten feed if any, and moulting shells as their food source.
“With the assistance of the Government and authorities, the industry will be worth more than USD 1 billion by 2020.
"We deem the negative criticism received is solely due to unawareness of Vannamei Shrimp farming. We are extremely concerned about the safety of shrimps and have an obligation to act for the benefit of the society at large"
“It will create thousands of job opportunities in both the North and North-Western Provinces. We also hope to launch an out-grower scheme beneficial to the surrounding communities,” an official said.
Meanwhile, several international consultants, who refuted the allegations levelled against Vannamei Shrimp farming said those, who protested were oblivious to the entire project and that outdated idea still lurked in their hearts and minds. Addressing the gathering, aquaculture expert Senthil Kumar underscored the significance of Vannamei Shrimp farming and the pivotal role it could play in booming the socio-economic sectors. “People are seemingly hostile towards this initiative because they are unaware of the process and of its tangible and intangible benefits. Presently, shrimp culture covers a total coastline of 1,700 kilometres. “NAQDA says though Sri Lanka produced 3,820 tonnes in 1999, the production has dwindled to 1,570 tonnes in 2005. However, the Extraordinary Gazette notification issued on 08.03.2017 by the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Ministry has identified 9,055.8 Ha (22,639.5 Acres) of land for aquaculture development. Native to the tropical marine habitats of the Eastern Pacific, Vannamei has a huge potential in flourishing the local economy as shrimp exports have plummeted year-on-year, owing to the inability to meet the rising demand of export quality shrimp.
“Currently, Sri Lanka views Black Tiger, a marine crustacean, as the “only choice” in business, though in reality, Vannamei is key to fisheries export growth. Countries like India, Thailand and Saudi Arabia have demonstrated a steep growth in shrimp exports as they introduced Vannamei and discontinued to ship Black Tiger mainly due to health concerns. There is also a huge demand in exports to the US market,” he said.
Mr Kumar stated that after years of research in a Hawaiian University, the US in 1990 introduced Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) Vannamei Shrimps in a bid to eschew Black Tiger, which is prone to various forms of causative and microorganisms, virus, fungi and bacterium.
Furthermore, a recent report on Vannamei shrimp farming, prepared by Professor J.M.P.K. Jayasinghe of the Livestock Fisheries and Nutrition Faculty at the Wayamba University, concludes that Vannamei shrimp farming is not just viable, but also doesn’t pose any threat to the environment, food safety, social and animal welfare, as farms are constructed in accordance with international, certified and audited Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP).
Members of the Fisheries Cooperative Federation wrote to President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe seeking support to develop Vannamei shrimp farming in the