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INDEX Aquaculture Magazine Volume 41 Number 6 December 2015 - January 2016


on the

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AquAdvantage® Salmon: A Case Study in the Development and Approval of Transgenic Aquatic Organisms.







Overview and Latest Developments in Shrimp and Tilapia Aquaculture in Northeast Brazil.

Enhancing the Aquaculture industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

First Chinese farms earn ASC certification.

Volume 41 Number 6 December 2015 - January 2016



British Columbia Salmon Farmers Association Publishes First Sustainability Progress Report.

Editor and Publisher Salvador Meza Editor in Chief Greg Lutz Managing Editor Teresa Jasso









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“Brown Blood” - Nitrites in Production and Recreational Ponds.

Aqua B.I.G. to launch in Hong Kong.

Editorial Design Francisco Cibrián Designer Perla Neri Marketing and Communications Manager Alex Meza Sales and Marketing Christian Criollos International Sales and Marketing Steve Reynolds

USSEC. Aquaculture Investment and Educational Workshops Support Collaboration To Grow Industry in Latin America and Elsewhere.

News and Information from the Aquatic Animal Drug Approval Partnership Program New Desk Reference Booklet.

Business Operation Manager Adriana Zayas

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It’s not just what you do, it’s how you do it By C. Greg Lutz


emember the story about the three stonecutters? A child approaches the first one and asks what he is doing. The man says, “I am cutting a stone.” Not satisfied with such a simple response, the child walks over to the second stonecutter and asks the same question. This craftsman explains, “I’m cutting and re-cutting this block to make it square so it will fit exactly where it should go in the wall here.” The child, now intrigued, approaches the third stonecutter and asks what he is working on. The man grins and replies, “I am building a cathedral.” How we perceive what it is we do makes a fundamental difference in how we do it. Most of us know what it is we do, more or less. Things like marketing, or education, or certification, or construction, or production, or disease diagnosis….. the list goes on and on. But… why? Well, a general response is something like “to make a living.” But who pays your salary? Where does the money come from to generate all these aquaculture-related

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careers? Is there someone out there doing what you do… but perhaps just a little bit (or a lot) better? This issue has a lot of examples of how people in aquaculture approach what they need to get done. Aquabounty, for example, jumped through every hoop in the permitting process for their genetically enhanced salmon, answered every baseless criticism, provided every bit of data demanded, and persevered. Unfortunately for them, in some sense, now comes the REALLY hard part – convincing consumers that they are offering a wholesome, sustainable product in spite of the misinformation many critics are disseminating. The same could be said for the FDA reviewers involved in the review evaluation and approval of this transgenic product – they stuck to the science. The best available science. And they were true to their mission, which was to make unbiased determinations based on available facts. Producers of shrimp and tilapia in Brazil are forward thinking: looking for better methods, better genet-

ics, better marketing. It’s not the case that they are just raising and selling fish and shrimp. Several latitudes away, many folks have big plans for expansion for the farmed salmon industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. Some controversy has arisen over this, as could have been expected, but those pushing forward should be recognized for not being dissuaded by petty politics and for following scientific and market principles. Their vision should ultimately benefit thousands of families in coastal communities and elsewhere while having minimal environmental impact. Nonetheless, how some aquaculture producers raise their products, and how some regulators police the process, are often cause for concern. The certification “wave” has increased globally due to the lack of confidence in government oversight and regulation in many countries, and with good reason. Government effectiveness scores actually decreased from 1996 to 2013 for 5 of the top ten aquaculture producing countries.

So, the industry is focusing on how to do things in various parts of the world. Chinese tilapia producers have begun making well-considered decisions to elevate the commodity status of their products by pursuing ASC and other certifications. They are not just growing, processing and selling tilapia – they are focusing on HOW they grow, process and sell tilapia. British Colombia Salmon Farmers have been pursuing sustainability for some time, but they have recently hit on a way to counter their critics with transparency and defensible numbers. Perhaps no aquaculture enterprise can be 100% sustainable, but again, the focus now is on how their operations (minimally) impact the environment and the fact that they are striving to keep improving. The AADAP program, which we cover here often, is a great example of public servants striving to have a positive influence on how growers in the US and elsewhere farm aquatic organisms. Handy guides have been developed by these folks to take the confusion out of the process of determining what aquatic animal drugs and therapeutant compounds are approved, and for what purposes. This is increasingly important in today’s world of quality assurance and traceability. It’s nice to know some civil servants actually have our back. So, no matter what aspect of the aquaculture business you find yourself in, remember that it’s not about what you do every day, it’s about how you do it.

Dr. C. Greg Lutz has a B.A. in Biology and Spanish by the Earlham College at Richmond, Indiana, a M.S. in Fisheries and a Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science by the Louisiana State University. His interests include recirculating system technology and population dynamics, quantitative genetics and multivariate analyses and the use of web based technology for result-demonstration methods.




AquAdvantageÂŽ Salmon: A Case Study in the Development and Approval of Transgenic Aquatic Organisms

One approach to the genetic improvement of aquatic organisms that has emerged as a discipline in its own right over the past two C. Greg Lutz


ransgenic fishes (or molluscs or crustaceans) can be defined as possessing within their chromosomal DNA, either directly or through inheritance, genetic constructs which have artificial origins. The key word for researchers, producers and even consumers here is within the chromosomal DNA: introduced constructs are incorporated into the target organism in such a way as to be expressed and passed along to subsequent generations. The potential pay-offs for utilizing this type of technology in aquaculture are high: rapid, almost 6 Âť

decades is transgenesis, the transfer of foreign genes into new hosts.

instantaneous gains in many types of important production traits such as growth, cold tolerance, or disease resistance may be possible. The potential problems, however, are also impressive: labor- and capital-intensive methodologies and consumer distrust of genetically engineered products in many nations. Another major constraint to the widespread adoption of transgenic stocks in aquaculture involves regulatory restrictions on stocking and culture of genetically modified organisms. Due to a lack of performance data, it is usually quite difficult to assess (or even speculate on) the potential im-

pacts of genetically modified aquatic organisms on natural systems. As a result, resource managers, politicians and bureaucrats are reluctant to even attempt to develop protocols for the use of these organisms in situations where inadvertent releases could occur. One (and probably the only) case study of transgenic organisms in aquaculture involves the company AquaBounty Technologies. In a press release dated November 19, the company announced that the FDA had approved the production, sale and consumption of its transgenic salmon. This approval was the

result of many years of diligence and perseverance, and at many times in the process it seemed virtually unattainable. Jack A. Bobo, Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer at Intrexon, a US-based biotechnology company and Aquabounty’s main shareholder, stated “The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee encourages Americans to eat a wide variety of seafood —including wild caught and farmed— as part of a healthy diet rich in healthy fatty acids. However, this must occur in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. FDA’s approval of the AquAd-

vantage Salmon is an important step in this direction.” In 1989, AquaBounty developed AquAdvantage® salmon, a genetically modified Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), by inserting a gene from the Chinook (King) salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), coupled to DNA fragments from the coldwater marine fish Ocean Pout (Zoarces americanus). This modification allows specimens to reach smolt size and commercial size in half the time required by traditionally farmed salmon. For many years, AquaBounty has fought to bring their genetically modified (GM) salmon to the marketplace.

Since this would be the first GM animal suitable for human consumption to be submitted for FDA approval, the company initially faced an uphill battle in terms of generating scientific data required to meet regulatory concerns, and subsequently to encourage opponents to accept the science in the decision-making process. For some time now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been in ‘the final stages’ of reviewing AquaBounty’s dossier and application for approval of the AquAdvantage® salmon. In anticipation of an FDA approval, some groups have expressed »



In 1989, AquaBounty developed AquAdvantage® salmon, a genetically modified Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).

concerns about commercialization of the product in spite of company assurances that its salmon will comply with the sterility levels required by the FDA. The regulatory application for AquAdvantage® salmon production includes a manufacturing site for egg production in Canada, and a grow-out site in Panama. The agency’s approval would allow AquaBounty to send eggs to Panama, and products harvested there could then be imported and marketed in the USA. The company assures they have taken all the necessary precautions in the design and production process to ensure a safe, healthy and environmental risk-free product. In 2013, Environment Canada determined that the company’s salmon would pose no significant threat to the environment or human health when produced in contained facilities, clearing the way for the egg production component of the company’s plans. The agency reached this conclusion following a risk assessment conducted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, involving a panel of independent scientific experts in the fields of transgenics and fish containment A close view of salmon eggs and developing salmon fry. Courtesy of USFWS.

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technologies. In the U.S., one final step before the FDA could issue a formal approval was the public comment process for the draft Environmental Assessment and preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact. This was also completed in 2013. After compiling all the responses, it was expected that an FDA approval or rejection would be released at some point in 2014. Politics, and opponents unwilling to allow the scientific review process to follow its proper course, put the status of AquAdvantage® salmon in limbo for several years. Due to the delays in the regulatory approval of the product, the company almost depleted its initial capital. The company reported net losses of $4.7 million for 2013, following losses of $4.4 million in 2012. Losses reported for 2011 and 2010 were $2.7 million and $5.3 million, respectively. Nonetheless, financial prospects have improved since Intrexon became AquaBounty’s main shareholder. Intrexon has a broad portfolio of technology and bio-molecular applications, and funded a short-term bridge loan to support operations through mid-2015. The company is banking on economic and environmental incentives

AquAdvantage® fish will pose no genetic threat to wild salmon. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Closed containment design. Courtesy of DFO Canada.




Land-based production in Naimo Canada.

to use GM salmon, due to its improved growth and feed conversion ratio (FCR) characteristics. Studies carried out by the company suggest that producers may obtain a lower FCR (20-25%), and more efficient utilization of dietary protein. Both would have direct environmental benefits. The company has also cited a number of other potential improvements to sustainability. Because AquAdvantage® salmon will be raised only on land-based systems, this will hopefully contribute to increase the adoption of closed systems such as RAS. Additionally, scientific applications incorporated into the product, as triploid, monosexed populations, may be more easily transferred to conventional aquaculture species, in order to protect both the environment and the intellectual property of genetic improvement companies. The use of a more efficient, highturnover fish such as AquAdvantage salmon might be the key to making land-based salmon culture economically sustainable. According to the company, virtually all AquAdvantage® salmon are triploids. The percentage efficiency of triploid induction in general has been reported to exceed 99%. In the validation study submitted to the 10 »

FDA, 7,000 eggs from 20 families were individually analyzed, using flow cytometry. Of those 20 crossings 14 were found to be 100% triploid, and the overall average was 99.85%. In addition, 100% of AquAdvantage® salmon are mono-sex (all female), so that they cannot establish reproductively active, self-sustaining populations. In many salmonid species, females are considered superior (and more efficient from a bio-economic perspective) in most production traits. Since sex in salmonids is based on female homogameity (as is the case with humans), which we can refer to here as an XX state, it is possible to produce all-female stocks by mating normal female salmon with XX ‘males’ produced through hormonal masculinization of normal XX fry. Like all Atlantic Salmon, AquAdvantage® salmon cannot breed with any of the five species of Pacific salmon, including Coho Salmon. Therefore, the combination of triploidy, monosex populations and natural reproductive incompatibility, as well as multiple containment barriers built into culture centers, mean that the reproductive interaction between AquAdvantage® salmon and wild salmon stocks would be essentially zero. No accidents like we saw in Jurassic Park. AquAdvantage® eggs will be labeled as genetically engineered Atlantic Salmon; this label will be implemented on each batch to be marketed. However, the company has no power to control how customers and distributors will label their final products. Opponents have focused on this aspect of the market chain as a means to prevent the commercialization of fish like AquAdvantage®. For example, although voters in Washington rejected mandatory labelling of genetically modified organisms in 2013, Rep. Cary Condotta introduced a bill the following year that would require genetically engineered salmon

to be clearly marked at the point of sale. Similarly, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, requiring mandatory labelling of GM salmon. A number of arguments against AquAdvantage® salmon were publicized in the resulting discussion, none of which were scientifically sound. At the time AquaBounty’s CEO, Dr. Ronald Stotish, stated that “The amendment appears to be an attempt to usurp legal authority for food labelling from the FDA where it has resided historically. More importantly, it appears to be an attempt to utilize labelling as a weapon for protection of economic interest.” Murkowski was widely considered to be acting to protect the interests of wild salmon fisheries in her home state. The relationship between price, sustainability and consumer acceptance presents a complicated balance in the case of AquAdvantage® salmon. When one considers the overall environmental impacts in terms of containment and conversion efficiency, many of those criticizing these GM fish apparently have not considered that they may be “cutting off their nose to spite their face.” However, those producers who want to work with a salmonid with accelerated growth and reduced FCR will have

The percentage efficiency of triploid induction in general has been reported to exceed 99%

salmon will hold the same nutritional and biochemical properties as conventional farmed salmon, so apart from any stigma associated with a genetically enhanced product, they may accept it and enjoy it like any other farmed salmon. As has been shown in the case of AquAdvantage® salmon, sound science is only a part of the regulatory process when it comes to GM organisms. Future GMO applications submitted to the FDA will be handled on a case by case basis, and it is impossible to predict their outcomes, but now that AquaBounty’s application is finally approved it could give hope to other GMO producers. PEI-Hatchery-Fish-Tanks. Courtesy of Aquabounty.

to deal with resistance in the marketplace, at least initially. Presumably, AquAdvantage® salmon will have a lower production cost than traditional farmed salmon. By using land-

based RAS systems that are specially designed for AquAdvantage® salmon culture, the company estimates that producers could save up to $1-1.50/ kg. For end users, AquAdvantage®

Dr. C. Greg Lutz has a B.A. in Biology and Spanish by the Earlham College at Richmond, Indiana, a M.S. in Fisheries and a Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science by the Louisiana State University. His interests include recirculating system technology and population dynamics, quantitative genetics and multivariate analyses and the use of web based technology for result-demonstration methods.

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Overview and Latest Developments

in Shrimp and Tilapia Aquaculture in Northeast Brazil

Shrimp and tilapia production has accelerated in northeast Brazil, driven by increasing domestic demand and improvements in farming By Alberto J.P. Nunes and Itamar de Paiva Rocha


lthough early developments date to the 1930s, with induced spawning of native freshwater fish, comercial aquaculture only started to expand in the 1990s with the introduction of Pacific whiteleg shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei and the Chitralada strain of Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus. Aquaculture began to achieve industrial scale, with national production increasing from 87,674 t in 1997 to 476,521 t in 2013 (IBAMA 2008; IBGE 2014). In 2014, tilapia and shrimp production was estimated to have reached 207,400 and 90,000 t, respectively. Northeast Brazil accounts for 1/3 of the country’s total aquaculture production.

History and Species Northeast Brazil has 3,000 km of coastline, with temperatures of 2628 C throughout the year. Coastal 12 »

technology. land in rural areas is widely available and poorly explored. Much of the economy in these areas relies on tourism or primary production activities such as artisanal fisheries, salt production, aquaculture and rainfed or irrigated agriculture. In upper states of the northeast, towards the Amazon, water is abundant and largescale soybean and cattle production are conducted. However, in much of the region, a semi-arid climate prevails. Here, constructed dams are primarily used to store freshwater for human and animal consumption, but also serve for crop irrigation, fisheries, aquaculture and other economic activities. With a good transportation and communications infrastructure, the region has good access to the extensive agro-industrial base and the major consumer markets in Brazil. These conditions have long been considered ideal for aquaculture development.

Shrimp farming began in 1973 with the “Shrimp Project” in Rio Grande do Norte state. Over the following two decades, farmers experimented with several species. Consolidation of commercial culture came in the mid-1990s when aquafeeds and hatchery-produced postlarvae of L. vannamei became industrially available. Tilapia (Congo tilapia Tilapia rendalli) was first introduced in northeast Brazil in 1957. In 1971, the federal government introduced Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus and Zanzibar tilapia O. urolepis hornorum. In the 1980s, several tilapia strains were introduced. In the mid-1990s, feed-based tilapia aquaculture in small volume cages started with red strains and the Thai-Chitralada Nile strain, which dominates production.

Shrimp Aquaculture

Farm Performance Between 1998 and 2003, shrimp

Several red strains of tilapia have been evaluated in Brazil (A) but commercial culture consolidated using the Thai-Chitralada Nile strain (B). Photos: Alberto Nunes.

Paddlewheel aeration is a common practice on shrimp farms in northeast Brazil. It has been successfully used to enhance shrimp yields in ponds of all sizes, in older (A, Aquacrusta Marina farm) and newer operations (B, Potiporã Aquacultura Farm). Photos: Mauricio Albano and Queiroz Galvão Alimentos S.A.

farmers in northeast Brazil increased annual yields from an average of 1,678 kg/ha to 6,084 kg/ha (Nunes et al. 2011). This was achieved by increasing stocking density, use of paddlewheel aeration and feeding trays. In 2003, intensification was disrupted by outbreaks of Infectious Myonecrosis Virus (IMNV) disease. Today shrimp stocking densities can range from 30 to 70 PLs/m2 and 15 or less in ponds without aeration. Yields continue to increase by shorter intervals between crops. The average crop duration is 70 days, with yields of 800 to 4,000 kg/ha and three or more crops per year. Aeration and applied bioremediation products have been keys to improve results.

Nursery Systems Shrimp farming in Brazil is carried out in a two-stage cycle. Post-larvae (PL10) are acclimated from 5 to 15 days in nursery tanks before transfer to ponds. Nursery tanks are round, constructed of concrete, fiberglass or liners. These tanks are 50-80 m3 with a central drain. Shrimp farmers prolong the nursery phase to stock larger and more resistant PLs in ponds. This has been attempted by 1) installing skimmers in nursery tanks, 2) controlling water temperature and phytoplankton blooms by shading tanks with black plastic, 3) sizegrading post-larvae prior to stocking, 4) shifting from starter to post-larval diets, and 5) adding an additional

culture phase after the nursery using lined ponds near grow-out ponds. This has allowed farmers to shorten grow-out cycles by 15 days and to improve final survival by 20 percent. Post-Larvae and Genetics There are about 18 operational shrimp hatcheries in northeast Brazil, maintaining a production of 1.5 billion PL/mo. Half of PL production originates from hatcheries that produce more than 150 million PL/mo. These hatcheries are part of or have direct business involvement with grow-out farms, so they are able to invest in genetic improvement programs. There was speculation that inbreeding problems could occur if new parental stocks were not intro» 13


A typical shrimp nursery tank in northeast Brazil with protein skimmers in the back (A). Shrimp are stocked at 10-25 PLs/L, depending on targeted size at harvest. Use of automatic feeding, plastic covering, biofloc enriched-water (B, C) and lined ponds (D, E) represents a trend towards producing juvenile-size shrimp prior to starting grow-out. Photos: Celm Aquicultura S.A. and Alberto Nunes.

duced. The last official introduction of L. vannamei in Brazil occurred in 2006 by a privately-owned hatchery to develop a new line of SPF (Specific Pathogen Free) shrimp. In a different approach, in 2004, another commercial hatchery started to develop local stocks to be IMNV-resistant and tolerant to stress factors (salinity, stocking density and hypoxia). The survival of these shrimp in comercial operations has been enhanced, and has driven new investments in similar breeding programs by other hatcheries. Inland Culture Low-salinity culture of Pacific whiteleg shrimp in abandoned tilapia ponds or in saline soil has become a viable and profitable alternative 14 Âť

in northeast Brazil. Water in these sites is oligohaline, with 0.5-0.6 g/L salinity, unsuitable for agriculture. Inland shrimp farming has a rapid expansion because land is less expensive than in coastal areas and environmental license permits are easier to obtain. Shrimp must undergo an acclimation process before pond stocking. In the past, this was carried out by farmers, imposing a greater risk in production. Today, qualified hatcheries and acclimation centers near production sites deliver acclimated PLs to meet the salinity requirements of individual farms.

Tilapia Aquaculture Intensive culture in floating cages is the most popular farming system for tilapia in northeast Brazil. Cages

are easy to manufacture and manage, and require smaller investments than earth ponds. Cages vary in volume from 6 to 350 m3. Market size (0.8 to 1.2 kg) is reached in 6 to 7 months, with yields from 60 to 100 kg/m3. There have been three major developments in this industry: 1) a shift from small-volume (4-20 m3) to larger (>100 m3) cages, 2) starting grow-out with juvenile fish (1030 g), and 3) size-grading tilapia over the grow-out cycle. Sex-reversed tilapias (0.2-1g) are sold to farmers; in cages, 5 to 8 weeks are required to grow 0.5-g fry to 30-g juveniles. Farmers buy juvenile fish vaccinated against Streptococcus agalactiae. Because tilapia sales were mainly domestic and retail, small-volume cages allowed multiple partial harvests. However, farms moved from small to medium scale operations, so cages that could sustain larger fish biomass (>5 t) were required. Smaller cages are still popular, but they are becoming less economically attractive due to greater labor costs associated with feeding and management. Size-grading has become a key management strategy when stress and diseases do not affect production. Fish are usually sorted manually but, in large operations, this procedure is mechanized. Fish grading is carried out one or two times in a production cycle.

Feeds and Feeding Brazil is a global producer of grains and livestock, an advantage to the aquafeed industry, which uses soybean meal, corn and rendered animal by-products as major dietary protein sources. The feed industry relies on local commodities to supply the protein that tilapia and shrimp require. Brazil has strict technical standards and guidelines involving hygienic, sanitary and operational manufacturing procedures. Most feed plants have obtained GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certifica-

Privately owned shrimp hatcheries have played a key role in developing IMNV-resistant post-larvae. Shrimp hatcheries of Potiporã Aquacultura (A) and Celm Aquicultura (B) in the States of Rio Grande do Norte and Ceará, respectively.

tion that ensures quality, compliance and safety of aquatic feeds. All shrimp and tilapia are raised with aquafeeds produced locally. Today there are 19 feed companies producing shrimp and tilapia feeds and most have built facilities in northeast Brazil to offer affordable prices and timely deliveries. Feed continues to be delivered to shrimp in feeding trays or by manual broadcasting. Tilapia cage farms adopt walkways, to allow multiple daily feedings, reducing FCR and improving fish growth.

Center for acclimation of shrimp post-larvae to inland water with grow-out ponds in the back in Jaguaruana, Ceará state. Photo: Jeroen Vontilburg.

Most shrimp farms in northeast Brazil carry out mechanical harvesting to keep up with increasing market demand.

Cooked and frozen headless shrimp (A). Cooked, peeled and frozen headless shrimp (B). These ready-to-eat products are becoming more popular as Brazilian consumers increase their income and purchasing power. Photos: Queiroz Galvão Alimentos S.A. and Celm Aquicultura S.A.

Production Scale and Markets Tilapia and shrimp are commodities widely accepted in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Recife, Fortaleza and Belem. Several shrimp operations in northeast Brazil were designed to produce large quantities of shrimp required to meet long-term sales contracts in the US and Europe. Farms were equipped with processing facilities to deliver frozen, cooked, peeled and deveined, butterfly and breaded shrimp. However, in 2004, when antidumping tariffs were imposed against Brazilian shrimp by the U.S., many of these processing facilities became idle and farmers started to shift their attention to the domestic market.

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Typical tilapia cage farms in northeast Brazil. Tilapia can be fed from boats (A) or walkways (B). Photos: Alberto Nunes.

Manual (A) and mechanical size-grading (B) of tilapia during grow-out in farms in northeast Brazil. Photos: Alberto Nunes.

Industrially available shrimp and tilapia feeds in northeast Brazil are mostly sinking (A) and floating extruded (B) pellets. Photos: Alberto Nunes.

Delivery of feeds exclusively in feeding trays remains the most common feeding method on shrimp farms (A), although some farmers have been trying mechanical feeding (B). Photos: Alberto Nunes.

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With increasing purchasing power and income, the Brazilian consumer, who has traditionally consumed fresh shrimp in restaurants, is now demanding frozen processed or value-added products in major retail chains. Depending on farm production scale, tilapia and shrimp can be marketed fresh. Small operations rely on fresh products sold at the farm gate to intermediaries or directly to consumers at local fish markets. Medium scale farms usually rely on intermediaries or retailers but may also pay third parties to process their product or sell directly to processing plants owned by large-scale operations. When transported in loads of less than 10 t using insulated or refrigerated trucks, distances can be more than 2,000 km for shrimp, less than 1,000 km for fish.

On small- and medium-size cage tilapia farms, feed is often delivered manually from boats or walkways (A, B). Mechanical delivery is required in large operations (C). Photos: Alberto Nunes.

Shrimp processing facilities of Potiporã Aquacultura (A) and Celm Aquicultura (B). These facilities with state-of-the-art equipment are increasing production to meet the local market demand for frozen and value added shrimp. They generate thousands of jobs in rural areas of northeast Brazil (C).

Conclusions Shrimp and tilapia aquaculture will continue to expand in northeast Brazil to meet the increasing domestic demand. Brazil has a long history of importing fisheries products, resulting in a trade deficit that has grown from US$ 76.7 million in 2006 to US$ 1.3 billion in 2014. This deficit is expected to increase in the coming years due to stagnant fisheries stocks in the country and the increasing intake of aquatic animal protein by the population, especially by the growing middle class. On the other hand, the Brazilian government, NGOs and consumers are now more aware of the mechanisms involved in tilapia and shrimp aquaculture, although stringent environmental regulations continue to exist. The industry is enthusiastic to learn about new technologies that will maintain the current pace of development in a sustainable manner. *Alberto J.P. Nunes, LABOMAR – Instituto de Ciências do Mar, Universidade Federal do Ceará: nunes@ufc. br. Itamar de Paiva Rocha, Associação Brasileira de Criadores de Camarão. Rua Valdir Targino, 3625, Candelária – Natal, Rio Grande do Norte. 59.064-670, Brazil:

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Enhancing the Aquaculture industry

in Newfoundland and Labrador The Grieg Group of Norway has been in discussions with the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture regarding a business plan for the development of a salmon hatchery in Marystown and aquaculture sites in Placentia Bay.


he Province of Newfoundland and Labrador made the following public announcement on October 26 about the $251 initiative on October 26. Municipal and Intergovernmental Affairs, Fisheries and Aquacultur Expanding the Aquaculture Industry. New Aquaculture Player Set to Double Provincial Salmon Production.

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The Provincial Government and Grieg Newfoundland AS (Grieg) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding Grieg’s intention to establish aquaculture operations in the province. The $251 million project is expected to create approximately 325 direct and 235 indirect/induced person years of employment, based on preliminary estimates, associated with production, harvesting and processing, with further opportunities in

the supply and service sectors. As a result of the project, the province’s current Atlantic salmon aquaculture production will more than double. “Over the past decade we have seen significant growth in our province’s aquaculture industry, which continues to expand and diversify rural economies through direct and indirect jobs, and benefits to businesses. This MOU sets the stage to make Newfoundland and Labrador the largest aquaculture producer in eastern Canada. We will rival the output of British Columbia which currently leads among the Canadian provinces. The project proposed by Grieg will lead to significant new employment and business opportunities for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians particularly in the Burin Peninsula and Placentia Bay regions.” - The

Honourable Keith Hutchings, Minister of Municipal and Intergovernmental Affairs. Grieg’s plans include a new $75 million state-of-the-art hatchery/ nursery facility in Marystown that will produce seven million smolts annually to stock 11 sea cage sites for the subsequent grow out and harvest of 33,000 tonnes of Atlantic salmon. Four bay management areas

will be developed along the western side of Placentia Bay and near Long Harbour. The hatchery/nursery will be the largest in Canada and one of the largest in the world utilizing the latest technology. Grow-out operations will include new cage and netting system technology, automated feed systems, well boats and value added processing. “This project will take our aquaculture industry to a whole new level and make us a major global player. By more than doubling our current provincial Atlantic salmon production our industry will reach the critical mass and economies of scale necessary to support and encourage the expansion and diversification of a large-scale supply and service sector for the industry. This will create many more direct and indirect employment and business opportunities for our people.” - The Honourable Vaughn Granter, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

The company has made commitments as follows: • Construction of the hatchery to be completed by 2017 with construction of the grow-out sites to begin in 2017; • Annual production to reach 33,000 tonnes by 2023 which will more than double Newfoundland and Labrador’s current production of Atlantic salmon; • All processing to the final consumer stage, with a minimum of 75 per cent beyond “dressed head-on”; and • All processing must take place within the province. In support of this MOU, Grieg must also provide commitments regarding local sourcing of labour, equipment and supplies where available and to utilize local training and academic institutions for training and research needs. “The potential for salmon farming in Newfoundland and Labrador

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is huge using modern sustainable farming methods. We believe the province can be developed into a substantial producer of fresh salmon products for the whole North American market. There is a continuous and increasing demand for high-quality salmon, and we believe that Newfoundland and Labrador can supply this. We are also delighted with the reception we have had here from the province, local communities like Marystown, and our local partners from Ocean Choice International. After Minister Hutchings’ visit to Norway in July, 2014, we have been working closely with the Provincial Government which has worked very hard to establish a solid basis for this venture.” - Per Grieg Jr., the Grieg Group. The MOU sets out the obligations of the parties and commits Provincial Government funding of up to $45 million through the Aquaculture Capital Equity Investment Program. Provincial Government investment will be provided, through a 20-year agreement, in the form of an equity position in the company through preferred shares. Redemption of shares will begin in year eight at which time the Provincial Government will also 20 »

begin to receive annual dividends of three per cent on its shares until the project is complete and the Provincial Government investment is fully repaid in 2035. The MOU commits the parties to use all reasonable efforts to finalize the necessary formal agreements related to the project by January 31, 2016 subject to the completion of financial, technical, economic and any other analyses required by the Provincial Government. A copy of the MOU is available at: mou_grieg.pdf.

QUICK FACTS • The Provincial Government and Grieg have entered into a MOU regarding Grieg’s intention to establish aquaculture operations in the province which will more than double the province’s current Atlantic salmon aquaculture production and is expected to create approximately 325 direct and 235 indirect/induced person years of employment. • The project, valued at $251 million, will see the construction of a hatchery/nursery facility in Marystown that will produce seven million smolts annually to stock 11 sea cage sites, for the subsequent grow out

and harvest of 33,000 tonnes of Atlantic salmon, to be developed along the western side of Placentia Bay. • Annual production is scheduled to reach 33,000 tonnes by 2023. All processing must take place within the province and be to the final consumer stage, with a minimum of 75 per cent beyond dressed headon. In support of this MOU, Grieg must provide commitments regarding project startup and development timelines, local sourcing of labour, equipment and supplies where available and to utilize local training and academic institutions for training and research needs. • Grieg Newfoundland AS is part of the Grieg Group of companies in Bergen, Norway with 2000 employees in 15 countries whose main activities, in addition to salmon farming, are deep sea shipping, logistics and advisory services. Grieg has been involved in salmon farming for 23 years in Norway, Scotland and British Columbia, Canada.

More information is available from the Director of Communications for the Department of Municipal and Intergovernmental Affairs,

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First Chinese farms earn

ASC certification Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest tilapia farm and Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co Ltd have become the first Chinese farms to achieve Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification.

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his landmark achievement reflects the pioneering initiative and efforts of a few farms in the industry to tackle some of the major challenges facing tilapia farming in China. The success of the farms and their respective processors Hainan Xiangtai Fisheries Co., Ltd and Hainan Sky-Blue Ocean Foods Co., Ltd was celebrated during the Sustainable Seafood Forum in Qingdao. The formal handover of the certificates was conducted by the independent certification body that assessed the farms against the ASC standard, Intertek. The ceremony was attended by government officials, seafood industry representatives, NGOs and the media. Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest tilapia farm and Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co. Ltd are the first among a number of farms that undertook pre-assessments with help from WWF China to see if they operated in a way that meets the ASC Tilapia Standard. A third tilapia farm, Wenchang Zhou Qinfu, has been assessed against the ASC standard and hopes to be certified soon. Achieving ASC certification brings global recognition that Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest tilapia farm and Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co. Ltd are operating in a responsible way. It marks the start of their contribution towards a global market for responsibly produced seafood. Mr Yang Huaying, Deputy Executive Director of Hainan Sky-Blue Ocean Foods Co. Ltd said: “We are pleased that Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest has passed the assessment against the ASC Tilapia Standard. ASC certification allows us to prove to our customers that we are committed to responsible aquaculture.” Mr Liu Rongjie, President Xiangtai Fisheries Co. Ltd, said: “For us it is important be able to show through a third party that our ambitions to-

wards responsible tilapia farming have been achieved. The ASC certification of Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co. Ltd helps us communicate this to our stakeholders.” Making progress towards a more environmentally sustainable and socially responsible tilapia sector in the Chinese aquaculture industry has been achieved through a partnership between ASC, the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA) and WWF China. As a result the industry has begun to make real strides in improving the transparency of Chinese tilapia aquaculture. Dr Cui He, Executive Vice President, CAPPMA, said: “I would like to congratulate the Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest and Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co. Ltd for becoming the first tilapia farms in China to meet the rigorous requirements of the ASC Tilapia Standard. CAPPMA has been diligently work-

ing with ASC and WWF China to promote responsible aquaculture in China. This is a major step towards responsible aquaculture in this important market.”

Credible and independent farm certification ASC does not audit or certify farms itself; this is done by independent certifiers. The certifiers have to undergo a rigorous process of accreditation by a company that is independent of ASC, Accreditation Services International (ASI). ASI also monitors the performance of accredited certifiers. Before certifiers can formally undertake audits their staff must have participated in an ASC Auditor Training course and passed the mandatory exam to demonstrate their full understanding of and competence in the application of the standard. Chris Ninnes, ASC’s CEO, said: “These certifications reflect the substantial efforts of the farms to

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make real improvements in their operations. The farms were subject to scrutiny by a team of independent experts, which assessed them against the strict requirements of the ASC Tilapia Standard. This is a major milestone and they should be immensely proud of their achievements.” Throughout the assessment process stakeholders had the opportunity to input into the farm audits, with their views actively sought. This is a unique feature of the ASC programme.

The ASC Tilapia Standard development Jin Zhonghao, Director of Market Transformation, WWF China, said: “The ASC standard for tilapia aquaculture was created by a series of open roundtable discussions coordinated by the WWF. The multistakeholder initiative involved more than 200 tilapia farming experts including producers, conservationists and scientists. The resulting standard is incredibly robust, built on scientific knowledge and practices aimed at addressing the key negative environmental and social impacts of the industry.” By meeting the ASC Tilapia Standard the Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest Tilapia Farm and Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co. Ltd have demonstrated that they are well managed and minimise any adverse environmental or social impacts by, for example, focusing on the conservation and quality of water resources, no misuse of antibiotics, minimising escapes, compliance with strict feed requirements and meeting a range of social requirements.

Photo courtesy Graham Mair.

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About ASC The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is as an independent, notfor-profit organisation founded by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) in 2010 to manage the certification of responsible fish farming across the globe.

The ASC standards require farm performance to be measured against both environmental and social requirements.

The ASC standards require farm performance to be measured against both environmental and social requirements. Certification is through an independent third party process and (draft) reports are uploaded to the public ASC website. The on-pack ASC logo assures consumers that the fish they purchase has been farmed with minimal impacts on the environment and on society. The ASC standard addresses the following seven principles: - Legal compliance (obeying the law, the legal right to be there) - Preservation of the natural environment and biodiversity - Preservation of the water resources and water quality - Preservation of the diversity of species and wild populations (for example, minimising escapes that could become a threat to wild fish) - Monitored and responsible use of animal feed and other resources - Animal health (no unnecessary use of antibiotics and chemicals) - Social responsibility (for example, no child labour, health and safety of employees, freedom of assembly, community relations). For more information about ASC please visit

About China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA) CAPPMA was founded in 1994 as a national non-profit organization

directed under the Ministry of Agriculture. CAPPMA consists of more than 1200 members of seafood producers, processors, distributors, suppliers, and institutions for fisheries research and education, as well as relevant social entities and specilists that provide various services for seafood processing and marketing. At present CAPPMA has established ten branches of alliance. They are shrimp, tilapia, shellfish, sea cucumber, fishmeal and fish oil, cuttlefish, silverfish, seafood processed byproducts, aquatic products wholesale markets and seafood processing and re-exporting associations. CAPPMA is not only working on safeguarding companies’ rights and interests, but it plays an important role in improving self-discipline mechanisms and ensuring stability and prosperity of the seafood market. Through communication and cooperation with the local and international seafood sector, CAPPMA’s mission is

to improve the global fisheries toward a sustainable future.

Its Concepts: • Focus on members’ benefits • Strengthen the serving functions • Lead industry healthy development • Impel industrial upgrade Find more about CAPPMA from: World Wide Fund for Nature-China (WWF-China) WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent organizations dedicated to the conservation of nature. Since the first office was founded in Switzerland in 1961, WWF has grown into a global network active in more than 100 countries with almost five million supporters. WWF has been active in China since 1980, when it was invited by the Chinese government as the first international NGO to work on nature conservation. The Beijing office

opened in 1996, and there are now 8 additional field programme offices spread across China. WWF has more than 120 staff working in China on a broad range of conservation programmes including species, freshwater, forest, marine, climate change and energy, the green economy and footprint. Since the Beijing office was set up in 1996, WWF has sponsored more than 100 major projects, investing a total of over 300 million yuan with the goals of stopping the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and building a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by: • Conserving the world’s biological diversity • Ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable • Promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Find more about WWF China from:

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British Columbia Salmon Farmers Association

Publishes First Sustainability Progress Report

Salmon farmers in British Columbia are taking further steps towards increasing the availability of information on farming practices and key areas of public interest by publishing a Sustainability Progress Report, released recently at the GOAL 2015 meeting in Vancouver.

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he report, a first for salmon farmers in B.C., includes information on all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. The report provides clarification and updates on a number of issues of public interest. The Environmental Sustainability pillar of the report presents information on the industry’s use of antibiotics and vaccines, discusses escape prevention, sea lice management, predator management, and feed composition and utilization, as well as efforts in wild salmon conservation. Some progressive data is presented, and includes: •All salmon raised by BCSFA members are certified by comprehensive third-party programs. This includes farms certified by the GAABAP, ASC, and Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard. • Antibiotic use by B.C. salmon farmers has decreased 7-fold in the past decade, currently at approximately 50 grams of antibiotic prescribed per tonne of production. The B.C. salmon farming industry has also been recognized for its protocol to only use medicine to treat fish with existing health issues, and only through the prescription of a veterinarian. • In 2014, B.C. farming companies raising Atlantic salmon reported an average 93.6% survival of stock.

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The BCSFA intends to release annual updates to its Sustainability Progress Report, which is in addition to information published by member companies, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and other academic sources

• B.C. salmon farming companies are transitioning away from the use of copper-based treatments on netting, which has long been used as a common antifoulant for infrastructure in the marine environment. Over half of the farms operating in B.C. have already made this transition. • Salmon feeds used in B.C. contain less than 18% marine-based prod-

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ucts (fishmeal and oil). Feed producers have made noticeable changes to the composition of oils and proteins used in their feeds, replacing marine oil and protein sources with plant and animal sources. • In 2014, 21 salmon escaped from farms into the marine environment. • The BCSFA has formed the $1.5million Marine Environmental Research Program and appointed an independent Science Advisory Council to select and manage research projects, mainly in the area of wild and farmed salmon interactions. • 78% of the salmon raised in B.C. is done so in partnership with First Nations. Collectively, salmon farming companies in B.C. currently have 19 economic and social partnerships with First Nations, and are working towards many more. • In 2013, about $600,000 was donated by salmon farming companies to community organizations and causes. • Salmon farming contributes about 5,000 jobs to the B.C. economy every year.

“There have been great gains made in many facets of this business, which began in B.C. just over 30 years ago, and there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Jeremy Dunn, Executive Director of the BCSFA. “Our members have shown the commitment and dedication to ensuring the long-term stability of the sector, the ocean environment and marine wild species. This report helps to both share those gains and continue the dialogue on further improvements.” The BCSFA intends to release annual updates to its Sustainability Progress Report, which is in addition to information published by member companies, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and other academic sources. Together, these provide an extremely comprehensive view into the operations of B.C.’s salmon farms. In addition, BCSFA member companies growing Atlantic salmon

have also begun publishing information on sea lice management online on a monthly basis. This information will include lice levels on farms as well as any management measures that may have been taken. B.C. salmon farmers grow 58% of all salmon raised in Canada and account for 60% of the total landed value of seafood in British Columbia, generating more than $1.14billion towards the provincial economy. The BCSFA represents the province’s vibrant and diversified salmon aquaculture sector, inclusive of companies raising salmon, as well as the businesses that proudly provide services and supplies. For more information visit

Photos courtesy British Columbia Salmon Farmers Association.

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feature article

“Brown Blood”

- Nitrites in Production and Recreational Ponds “Brown blood” disease in fishes is caused by the accumulation of nitrite, which enters fishes’ bloodstreams through active transport across the gills, and binds with hemoglobin. The hemoglobin is then unable to transport oxygen, resulting in a type of on-going hypoxia.


lthough this problem can occur under a variety of conditions, in temperate climates heavy rainfall and winter feeding often contribute to conditions that can lead to brown blood disease in the spring. To understand why nitrite levels are a problem in the late winter and early spring, we need to understand where this compound comes from and how it impacts the fish and their production environment. Fish producers are continuously adding nitrogen to their ponds through feeding. Not all of this nitrogen stays in the fish, by any means. A large portion enters the water as fish waste, in the form of ammonia. Ammonia, in turn, is broken down in ponds by two distinct groups of bacteria. One group converts ammonia into nitrite, which is toxic to fish. The other bacteria convert ni30 »

trite into nitrate, which is non-toxic. During the winter, ammonia tends to accumulate in ponds because the water is too cold for these bacteria to function very efficiently. In extreme cases, high ammonia levels can contribute to winter kill problems. As water temperatures begin to warm in the spring, the bacteria that turn ammonia into nitrite “wake up” long before those that convert the nitrite into nitrate. Additionally, the nitrite converters can be inhibited while high ammonia levels persist. As a result, until pond temperatures are fairly warm, nitrite levels may increase to a point where brown blood becomes a problem. Over the years, fish farmers have found that adding salt to production ponds helps prevent or reduce problems with brown blood. This practice is based on the idea of adding enough chlorides (salt is just so-

dium and chloride) to protect fish from taking too much nitrite across their gills and into their blood. This is important because once a nitrite ion enters the bloodstream, it binds with a red blood cell and prevents it from carrying oxygen to the rest of the body. The result is similar to carbon monoxide poisoning, although more gradual. Only so many ions can cross a fish’s gill surface and enter its bloodstream. Chloride ions in solution compete with nitrite ions for the available “spaces” along the gill surface. So, adding salt to a pond seems to work well if a grower can get the ratio of chlorides to nitrites high enough. How high is high enough, you ask? Well, over the years the answer to that question keeps going up. At first, researchers recommended a 3:1 chloride to nitrite ratio for catfish farmers in the southern U.S. In no time at all, though, stocking and feeding rates (and, therefore, nitrogen levels) increased substantially. The new recommendation went up to 6:1. Further studies in laboratory and real-world settings now suggest that a 10:1 ratio is required to sufficiently protect catfish from brown blood. Comparable values seem to be the rule for many other freshwater species. A ratio of 16:1 completely suppresses brown blood formation in catfish, but the low levels of brown blood found at rations of 10:1 or higher can be tolerated by healthy fish. Most game fish and farmed salmonids have no problem tolerating the chloride levels required to keep brown blood from occurring. Of course, if you are raising species that require soft water, such as discus, certain tetras, or many ornamental species, this approach may not be feasible. So, back to the question: How much salt is really needed? In many regions, it is not uncommon for nitrite levels to reach

10 ppm in aquaculture ponds in the springtime, so a “safe” level of chlorides to shoot for would be 100 ppm. Unfortunately, nitrites can occasionally jump to levels as high as 20 ppm for the reasons described above. If this happens in one of your ponds or tanks, it may be possible to add more salt. Another option is to keep the fish as stress-free as possible and wait for the nitrites to drop back to more normal levels. That means no seining and no D.O. levels below 4. Remember that even if brown blood does not kill fish directly, it can weaken their resistance to disease, especially during the springtime when many cool- and warmwater species are already under stress. Of course, if you don’t know what your chloride and nitrite levels are, none of this discussion will do you any good.

Producers in North America and Europe should keep in mind that chloride levels may drop substantially from their fall values due to dilution and flushing by winter rains and snow melt. To avoid being caught off guard, find out what your chloride levels are now, going into the winter, and figure out how much salt you need to reach 100 ppm in your ponds or tanks. Test kits for chlorides and nitrites may be hard to find locally in some other regions, so now is the time to locate and purchase them. Nitrite levels should be checked once a week from the onset of cold weather until ponds or tanks warm in the spring. Growers can avoid losses caused by nitrites through diligent monitoring of water quality and feed consumption throughout the winter months, and through the application of chlorides. » 31


Aqua B.I.G.

to launch in Hong Kong

By: Roy D. Palmer*

In the joint press release, AWF and AISP stated: WDIDay is all about promoting information and communication technologies which have the potential to provide new solutions to development challenges, particularly in the context of post modernity. The world is one village [of globalization], and can foster economic growth, competitiveness, access to information and knowledge, poverty eradication and social inclusion. This is exactly what Aqua B.I.G. is all about, with a strong focus on what will be the future of aqua industries. “The Aqua B.I.G website (www. is live and interested parties can register there to be kept informed about the event. Management of the event is by Momentous Asia Travel and Events Co., Ltd, a fully accredited event and association management company who are strategically based at the global hub in Hong Kong. “The Aqua Revolution is actually upon us - water covers 75% of our planet yet it is the most finite resource for life. Aquaculture is now big business for food (fish, shellfish

On October 24, in conjunction with World Development Information Day (WDIDay), Aquaculture Without Frontiers (AWF) and the Association of International Seafood Professionals (AISP) announced the launching of a new conference and expo, Aqua B.I.G (Business – Industry – Government). The event will be held 2-4 September 2016 in Hong Kong. Additional organizers and supporting institutions will include the Asia Pacific Association of Technology & Society and the Asia Pacific Occupational Safety & Health Organisation and Global STEM States.

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& plants), water is a large generator of energy, and there is a tremendous amount of research and investment going into the use of algae for every-

thing from fuel to feed. When you add pharmaceuticals, medicines, cosmetics, transport, mining, etc. to the mix you are starting to appreciate the

changes that are occurring as we look beyond the land for the future. “Nanotechnology can showcase some of the new developments for production of diatoms as natural food to bring about higher levels of food availability. Advances in nanotechnology have also begun to provide methods for better food processing, packaging and safe cleaning

fluids to create a high level of preservation capabilities. We will also showcase avenues for skill development, employment generation and opportunity for all embedding technology as a tool. “Technology through innovation, research, and investment will be the driver of future activities and Aqua B.I.G aims to be a catalyst for bring-

ing people together to discuss, debate, promote and plan for the future. “China is the world’s largest producer and exporter of seafood but is gradually positioning itself to change that to more domestic focus. China has limited new areas to utilise for aquaculture so their focus will need to be on increasing yields from what they have – that is all about innovation, technology and research. Hence we have chosen to position our first Aqua B.I.G in Hong Kong at a convenient period when other events are in the area to enable international visitors to engage. For further enquiry for this event, please do email us at: “We actually know more about the moon than the seafloor and yet the seas and oceans are so very important and relevant to all humans. Save the date, 2-4 September 2016.” Roy D. Palmer, Executive Director: Aquaculture Without Frontiers and the Association of International Seafood Professionals.

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Aquaculture Investment and Educational Workshops Support Collaboration To Grow Industry in Latin America and Elsewhere Aquaculture professionals gathered at the University of Miami several months ago for the fourth Aquaculture Investment Workshop, organized by the Global Soy in Aquaculture Program of USSEC and sponsored by the U.S. Soy Family and the Kansas Soybean Commission.


pproximately 90 representatives of the most cutting-edge aquaculture companies in Latin America and the Caribbean participated in the two-day Workshop, to discuss current challenges and opportunities related to growing the industry in the region. Operators from established fish farms shared their success stories, and aspirational companies who are just getting up and running spoke of the technical and market particulars of their farmed species. Representatives from the investment, insurance and retail sectors also presented helpful information and advice for growing the burgeoning aquaculture industry. The invitation-only Workshop has evolved over the past three events into one of the most productive and informative conferences in the seafood industry. Participants are recognized as important players representing most sectors of the field, and the event is a powerful opportunity for steering industry development in the right direction. Francisco de la Torre, USSEC Regional Director for the Americas who organized the event with Jairo Amezquita, remarked at the event closing that the collaborative nature 34 »

of the workshop will help to move the industry forward. “When we first started this workshop, we couldn’t find an aquaculture company who wanted to share their story. They would attend to listen, but wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about their business. Now, there’s a clear understanding that we’re all in this together, so we’re willing to help each other. We need to have a critical mass of healthy, farmed seafood in the marketplace.” For more information on the most recent Aquaculture Investment Workshop, read the live blog from Intrafish at http:// Additionally, USSEC will host the 2016 U.S. Soy QSSB aquaculture educational opportunity in Villahermosa, Mexico on January 12, 13 and 14. According to USSEC Marketing Direc-

tor Aquaculture – Customer Focus Colby Sutter, the first day will be dedicated to learning about current aquaculture constraints, opportunities and general happenings in key regions and countries around the world, including the U.S. The second day will involve a full-day site visit to Regal Springs’ tilapia hatchery, cages and processing plant. The third and final day will involve learning from researchers about current and potential research studies as they pertain to U.S. Soy in aquaculture. Ms. Sutter adds, “This will really be a tremendous opportunity for people to learn about aquaculture all around the world, including the U.S., and including the research that is being funded by the U.S. Soy checkoff.” To register, please visit http://bit. ly/1LqZdkj or email csutter@ussec. org with any questions.

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News and Information from the Aquatic Animal Drug Approval Partnership Program

New Desk Reference Booklet The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Aquatic Animal Drug Approval Partnership Program, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies – Fisheries and Water Resources Policy Committee’s Drug Approval Working Group and the American Fisheries Society’s Fish Culture and Fish Health Sections have published a small-format (approximately 7” x 11”) booklet listing all currently approved drugs for use on aquaculture species.


he Desk-Reference booklet, like its sister Poster publication, describes how each drug may be legally used (e.g., dose, concentration, duration) and under what circumstances (i.e., the specific disease or conditions). It also contains examples of how to calculate the amount of each drug to use for a particular situation. Included within each example are the appropriate formulae and/or tables needed to calculate the dose or concentration of each drug for your specific situations. The booklet can be obtained in PDF or hard copy by visiting http:// info_materials.html The AADAP also maintains a Drug Use Guidance web page which contains a variety of information to assist in making sound decisions as to what drugs may legally be used in the United States and the conditions under which they may be used. These on-line resources do not include those drugs yet to be approved for which the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service holds Investigational New Animal Drug (INAD) exemptions. The webpage, at 36 »

Poster Pub for AADAP

aadap/drug_use_guidance.html covers topics such as approved drugs, extra label drug uses, low regulatory priority drugs, GRAS (generally regarded as safe) drugs, forbidden drugs and deferred drugs. The “Drug-use Guidance” sections include direct links to various guid-

ance documents, at this time primarily from the FDA. Guidance documents are often intended to assist prospective sponsors of drugs, animal health practitioners, animal owners and caretakers, and other interested parties in making informed decisions about the use of drugs and the generation of

information pertinent to applications for new animal drug approvals. Certain drugs approved by FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) for other animals or other conditions of use (i.e., treatment claims) may, under very specific circumstances, be legally used on aquatic species for which the drugs are not approved. Any such use is referred to as “extra-label” or “off-label” drug use. The List of Low Regulatory Priority drugs includes: •Acetic acid as a parasiticide for fish •Calcium chloride to ensure proper egg hardening •Calcium oxide as an external protozoacide •Carbon dioxide as a an anesthetic •Fuller’s earth to reduce the adhesiveness of fish eggs •Garlic for control of parasitic infestations of marine salmonids •Ice to reduce metabolic rate of fish during transport •Magnesium sulfate to treat external parasitic infestations in fish at all life stages •Onions to treat external parasitic infections of salmonids at all life stages •Papain to remove gelatinous matrix

of fish egg masses •Potassium chloride as an aid in osmoregulation •Povidone iodine as an egg surface disinfectant during and after water hardening •Sodium bicarbonate to anesthetize fish •Sodium chloride as an osmoregulatory aid and as a parasiticide •Sodium sulfite to treat eggs in order to improve their hatchability

•Thiamine hydrochloride to prevent or treat thiamine deficiency in salmonids •Urea and tannic acid to denature the adhesive component of fish eggs. A complete and detailed listing of the LRP drugs can be found at

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Europe Report

Europe Report Since the time of ancient Egypt, followed closely by the Romans and the Greeks, the meaning of Aquaculture has always been widely understood in the Mediterranean.

By Eva A. Kyriakopoulou*


ith different types of cultivation disappearing and reappearing through the ages, the promotion of the practice of cultivating aquatic species has led to the modern type of fish farming: extensive, large scale aquaculture with the use of cages is the dominant type of fish cultivation in the sector. The countries that account for the Mediterranean and Black Sea’s highest production rates have farms that are structured likewise. These countries are, in alphabetical order, Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia and of course Turkey.

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The plethora of countries that take part in this practice are in some ways responsible for the variety of issues that occur in the sector and affect its not-so smooth functionality, which could be considered as understandable. At this point I reckon that it would be redundant to refer to or try to analyze the reasons that make the Aquaculture sector of immense importance for the aforementioned countries, both from an economic and a social standpoint, though this is partially explained by the continuous rise of global demand. Though I consider myself to be relatively new in this field, I think it would be more useful to try and list the priority issues that need to be addressed in order to

proceed to a more sustainable development of Aquaculture in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. These issues already exist or are emerging and their importance is among the biggest considerations for the future of Mediterranean aquaculture as a whole. Despite its undoubted success, the aquaculture industry in the greater Mediterranean and Black Sea area has faced cycles of alternate positive and negative phases, as well as disproportionate swings in margins and production volume. Producers are currently on the look for development of new production species in order to broaden the range of products they can offer to customers. However, till this day, most of these experimental species are still in the pilot stage.

Feeding submersible cages in Italy courtesy FAO.

Gilthead Seabream courtesy FAO.

But this imperative need for expansion has been raising several countryspecific concerns combining economic, environmental and social aspects, which could put the sustainability of the sector at stake. In this regard, and bearing in mind all the differences concerning cultural, socio-economic and legislative aspects which are exceptional to each Mediterranean and Black Sea region, a series of issues has been determined. These challenges need to be properly addressed in order to respond to the sustainability of the industry in an effective way in. The following points are a summary of the main concerns: • Necessity for a better definition and regional harmonization of aquaculture legal frameworks and procedural aspects in complex institutional settings. • Environmental and social concerns call for a rapid integration of aquaculture in coastal zone management and maritime policies. • Adoption of allocated zones for Aquaculture in order to minimize space limiting factors, administrative and local conflicts. • Implementation of a sector market-

ing strategy in order to better pursue price stability, exploitation of emerging markets, increased domestic consumption, improvement of the public image of the sector and an overall increase in the industry’s competitiveness. • Development of tools which will be used to collect data in real time and help monitor, assess and forecast both production and production capacity. • Meticulous logging of the marketing tools used to promote aquaculture products and consequently of the competition with imported farmed products. • Improvement of regional aquaculture biosecurity regarding fish diseases and aquatic animal health management. Promotion of responsible use of drugs and vaccines, and adoption of risk assessment as a management tool in order to be used as a disease prevention base. • Technical capacitation of staff on the main priorities and challenges for sustainable aquaculture development. • Introduction and incorporation of certification and traceability systems. • Improvement of institutional and

scientific cooperation, including knowledge and data sharing in order to advance and support procedures. • Increase market opportunities by applying R&D to production technology, new species and diversified production simulation models. • Advocate the conservation of traditional aquaculture, with applications focusing on extensive aquaculture and lagoon management. Combine technology with the traditional knowledge of coastal communities. • Development of a regional strategy with the collaboration of farmers’ and producers’ organizations. • Raise awareness on threats brought by the changing climate. Acknowledge the vulnerability of the aquaculture sector and develop potential adaptation and mitigation plans to cope with climate change related issues. • Strengthening of regional aquaculture governance. • Summarizing, the Mediterranean fish farming sector and its significant development have presented noteworthy results, not only regarding the production of fresh, cheap and high quality fish, but also the generation of socioeconomic structures that involve, both directly and indirectly, thousands of people, particularly in the fisheries-dependent areas of the region. It is obvious that the prosperity of the sector is significant and prominent, as well as highly dependent on the legal framework under which it operates, which makes the measures to be adopted even more significant.

Eva A. Kyriakopoulou is an Oceanographer - Ichthyologist from Greece. She comes from a seafaring family and the sea has always been her great passion. She graduated from the department of Marine Sciences of the University of the Aegean, in Lesvos island and she immediately started working for Andromeda S.A., one of the biggest sea-farming corporations in the Mediterranean. She is currently stationed in Preveza, eastern Greece.

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Latin American Report

Latin American Report Recent News and Events

While it seems individual countries will have to cope with EMS on their own terms, there are new examples of bilateral cooperation in aquaculture development in various countries.

By Yojaira Paternina Cordoba*

Millions of Dollars in Lost Shrimp Crop in Belize – EMS Implicated or the past 7 or 8 months, concerns have been growing over significant crop losses in Belize’s shrimp farming industry. Although unusual losses were first reported in March, only recently has the issue been addressed publicly by the government. In early November, Jose Alpuche, who heads up the Agriculture Ministy in Belize stated “There is a viral infection in the industry. It’s been affecting the industry for a few months now.” Nonetheless, various sources have confirmed that the disease in question is actually EMS. Producers are taking ponds out of production temporarily and acquiring new stocks which may be more resistant. Resistant stocks are credited with much of the rebound seen in Mexico’s


40 »

shrimp farming industry following devastating losses to EMS. According to Alpuche, “All farms have got to dry out. Basically stop production to clean out and then restart. The industry is taking the hard way around it, but it’s the best way around it. To restock with new genetic material and that’s the wisest decision they could have taken. It’s taking a little time. Originally they thought that they would be able to restock by early

Belize shrimp farm courtesy elaw

next year. But it appears that we will have a few months delay in that industry. “I don’t know the exact numbers [of people who have lost their jobs], but the farms have had to release in deed labors that would be when you have full production - because they are not in full production. But as far as I understand all the technical people, all the management have actually been kept on while they are in this process of restocking.

Within SAGARPA, the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (CONAPESCA) will provide technical support to Cuba for hyper-intensive production systems and public policy relating to aquaculture development. Cuba in turn will provide expertise in genetics and breeding of red tilapia, carp production, reservoir management for aquaculture, and sea cucumber culture.

Cuba will provide Mexico with expertise in genetic improvement of red tilapia.

Cuba and Mexico Agree to Program for Fisheries and Aquaculture Cooperation The Ministry of Food Industries of the Cuban Republic and the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food in Mexico (SAGARPA), signed a Cooperation Specific Program on NovemShrimp with EMS courtesy University of Arizona. ber 10, with the goal of collaborating more closely on training activities and “We have not done an update, but the ini- technical assistance in both fisheries tial estimate [of the industry’s losses] would and aquaculture. SAGARPA was represented by have been somewhere in the region of about 22 million dollars. But we expect that that Jose Calzada Rovirosa, head of the may go up.” Subsequent estimates have Secretariat, and the Cuban government was represented by Maria del put the losses as high as $30 million. Elsewhere, Alpuche stated “…we’re Carmen Concepcion Gonzalez, Minputting new practices in place, so that we miti- ister of the agency, in conjunction gate the chances of this recurring.” These with a meeting between the Presidents will apparently include stocking ponds of the two countries. Among the focus points of the with tilapia, then removing the fish before restocking with another crop of agreement will be the promotion and shrimp. Salinity will also be maintained development of aquaculture in inat lower levels. However, he indicated land waters. Experts emphasized the that because EMS had been present in importance of how the relationship neighboring countries already, it was would bolster scientific and technical only a matter of time before it reached support for food production and security. Belize.

Cooperation in Fisheries and Aquaculture Formalized Between Chile and Ecuador In another example of bilateral cooperation for aquaculture development, in early November the governments of Chile and Ecuador signed a comprehensive cooperation agreement for aquaculture and fisheries, with an emphasis on sustainable management of marine resources. Raul Sunico, the head of Chile’s Undersecretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture (SUBPESCA), and Pilar Proano, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries for Ecuador, signed the agreement on November 5 in Chile. Both countries pledged to cooperate in health, environmental and socioeconomic aspects of fisheries and aquaculture development, emphasizing the development of public policy and legislation, and the promotion of sustainable consumption of marine resources.

Yojaira Paternina Cordoba has a degree in Animal Husbandry from the National University of Colombia. She currently manages production, technical and marketing activities at Piscicola del Valle, S.A., specializing in production of red tilapia (Oreochromis sp.) and the white cachama (Piaractus brachypomus).

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Marine Finfish Aquaculture

What’s on Your Wish List?

After months of planning and preparation, we recently hosted a 3-day workshop entitled “Larval Feeds and Feeding Strategies for Marine Fish”.

By Mark Drawbridge *


he workshop was designed as an education, training and discussion platform focused on feeds and feeding strategies for larval marine fish with applicability to other marine and freshwater organisms that are fed. It was organized by experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Oregon State University (OSU), University of California Davis (UCD), and Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI). The workshop represented an extension component of a recently-completed three year collaborative research project funded by the Western Regional Aquaculture Center (WRAC). The workshop incorporated lectures with hands-on learning activities with marine fish of different life stages from eggs to juveniles. Recognizing that nutritional approaches to larval rearing success must be coupled with other sound husbandry practices, the agenda covered a broad range of topics from broodstock husbandry to microbial management strategies. A total of 27 people participated in the workshop, representing growers of cobia, Seriola, drum, flounder, sablefish, pompano, snapper, and marine ornamentals. Perhaps not 42 »

Hatchery reared halibut - photo courtesy NOAA.

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Marine Finfish Aquaculture

Workshop participants discuss egg quality considerations, which are critical to successful marine finfish production.

HSWRI Researcher, Federico Rotman, demonstrates practical methods for monitoring bacteria levels in aquaculture systems as part of recommended biosecurity practices.

Workshop participants discuss basic considerations for larval rearing of marine fish.

A workshop demonstration and associated discussion of in-house preparation of formulated diets for brood fish using an industrial meat grinder.

Workshop participants hear presentations on a host of topics related to larviculture of marine fish.

surprisingly, the discussion periods revealed common challenges facing U.S. producers – either intermittantly or ongoing. As I reflected on these challenges and others that have been presented, I decided it might be appropriate to put together a wish list of needs that would make hatchery life “simple”, or at least more predictable. The broodstock section of the workshop agenda covered systems design, basic husbandry, spawning methods, and egg quality components. Given the wide range of reproductive strategies in fish, including size at maturity, fecundity, courtship behavior, etc, much of this section is quite specialized for the particular species. Regardless, the end game is the same – producing adequate numbers of high quality eggs on a schedule that meets production planning needs. Broodstock nutrition is often questioned when egg or larval quality is less than what has been historically documented. For many large marine food fish species, the diet is comprised of fresh fish, squid, shrimp, etc, supplemented with vitamins. This is less than ideal given the potential for a breach in biosecurity, as well as the variability in quality, composition, and availability of some of these wild products. So, top on the wish list for this category would be customized (species-specific) dietary formulations for the broodstock species in question. This might include formulations that correspond to spawning and non-spawning periods, as appropriate. Recognizing the need for very large pellet sizes but modest volume (corresponding to a modest industry size), the formulation would most likely be mixed and manufactured into “sausages” on site. If polled, the group would also wish for easy, accurate, consistent measures of egg and larval quality. At the workshop, approaches to larval nutrition were partitioned into the live and formulated feed stages, with a discussion of approaches to 44 »

co-feeding. The live feeds section of the workshop included copepods, rotifers, Artemia, as well as associated enrichment strategies. Participants acknowledged challenges with systems and protocols that yield consistent mass production of each prey type, with the level of difficulty decreasing as the prey size increased. Challenges with commerically available enrichments and other additives included proprietary and noncustomized formulations as well as availability in some cases. Initially, it would be greedy to wish for microdiets that could completely replace these live prey items, so a compromise would be custom live prey enrichments that are manufactured and supplied locally, as well as appropriate microbial control additives to support the live feeds production process. The workshop section on microdiets included formulation and manufacturing processes that were shared with participants in a video format that greatly enhanced the learning experience. Research methods and results were also shared among the participants, including the use of novel feed markers to track ingestion; novel delivery methods for incorporating specific nutrients into live prey and formulated diets; development of open formula feeds; testing of different food particle types and associated manufacturing processes; and behavioral methods in larval nutrition research. Workshop participants acknowledged similar challenges with formulated feeds as those identified for live feeds. Specifically, lack of custom formulations coupled with proprietary commercial formulations, and unreliable availability of marine diets from overseas. So, custom formulated microdiets that are manufactured and supplied locally would be high on the wish list. The microbial management component of the workshop focused on the importance of understand-

ing and controlling bacterial communities within larval rearing tanks. Methods to do this were presented including bacterial quantification and identification, water filtration, biosecurity, passive larval transfers, self-cleaning larval tanks and other general hatchery methodologies for disinfection. The participants agreed that it would be beneficial to standardize the techniques for quantifying bacteria in an aquaculture setting in order to compare microbial monitoring results among producers. Fortunately, there is research going on in all of these important culture areas, so progress is being made across the industry. The information gained from the demonstrations, presentations, and discussions during the workshop was invaluable. Being able to communicate findings on a regular basis was a desire expressed by participants during the workshop’s wrap-up session. So, the final item on the wish list would be

the ability to hold similar marine larval workshops in the future – perhaps every 2-3 years. Workshops like these will allow for greater collaboration and potentially faster answers to the difficult questions that marine fish culture presents.

Mark Drawbridge has a B.S. degree in biology and a Master’s degree in Marine Ecology. He’s currently a Senior Research Scientist at Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in San Diego, where he also serves as the Director of the aquaculture program.

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in shrimp immune defense system

Winning the battles against infectious disease outbreaks remains as the ultimate goal, and drive, for continuous efforts seeking effective By Hui Gong*


mong the infectious pathogens, viral epizootics have caused the most catastrophic losses to the whole of the shrimp industry over the years. Although over 20 shrimp viruses have been identified, the most economically significant are white spot syndrome virus (WSSV), yellow head virus (YHV), taura syndrome virus (TSV), infectious myonecrosis virus (IMNV) and infectious hypodermal and haematopoietic necrosis virus, densovirus (DNV), etc. Shrimp relies solely on an innate immune system, and its diverse defense mechanisms against pathogenic infections include RNAi and signaling pathways such as Toll, Imd and Jak-STAT pathways, clotting and melanization (via prophenoloxidase cascade), in addition to some cellular mechanisms such as phagocytosis, apoptosis, nodule formation, encapsulation. The RNAi response is crucial in controlling virus replication and limiting virus induced pathology and inherently provides specific antiviral response. Also implicated in antiviral responses, various signaling 46 Âť

means of disease control in shrimp aquaculture.

pathways lead to the activation of transcription factors and the subsequent expression of antimicrobial peptides. This article is mainly focusing on the recent research discoveries of the antiviral mechanism of RNAi in penaeid shrimp, whereas the signaling pathways in shrimp

immune response will be a separate topic for future discussion. First discovered in plants, later in invertebrate, RNA interference (RNAi) is the mechanism mediated by small RNAs, with typical lengths among 21-30 ribonucleotides. There are three categories, namely small in-

Figure 1 RNAi pathway in Shrimp (Source: He et al. Molecular Immunology, 2015, with permission from Professor Xiaobo Zhang).

Table 1 Key proteins involved in RNAi pathways in shrimp. Common key proteins


Proteins found in shrimp


Rnase III

Producing small RNAs in the siRNA and miRNA pathways

PmDcr1&PmDcr2 (P. monodon); LvDcr1 & LvDcr2 (P. vannamei); MjDcr1 & MjDcr2 (M. japonicus)

Chen et al., 2011 Denli et al., 2004 Huang & Zhang, 2012a Huang et al., 012 Li et al., 2013 Tomari & Zamore, 2005 Su et al., 2008 Yao et al., 2010


Involving in miRNAmediated translation inhibition; interacting with Dicer2 and TRBP1 to form RISC, specific in siRNA pathway

PmAgo2/PemAGO (P. monodon); Lv-Ago1& Lv-Ago2 (P. vannamei); MjAgo1& MjAgo2 (M. japonicus)

Dechklar et al., 2008 Hain et al., 2010 Huang & Zhang, 2012b Huang & Zhang, 2013 Labreuche et al., 2010 Lu et al., 2005 Qu et al., 2008 Unajak et al., 2006

Argonautes PIWI subfamily

Germ cell development (?)

PmAgo3 (P. monodon)

Yang et al., 2014 Phetrungnapha et al, 2013

dsRNA-binding domain-containing cofactor of Rnase III

Stabilizing Dicer

LvTRBP & LvPasha (P. vannamei); Mj-TRBP1-3 (M. japonicas); Fc-TRBP1-3 (F. chinensis) PmTRBP1 (P. monodon)

Chen et al., 2011 Chen et al., 2012 Wang et al., 2009 Wang et al., 2012 Yang et al., 2013

Arsenite resistance gene

Enhancing Drosha processing

LvArs2 (P. vannamei)

Chen et al., 2012

AGO subfamily

terfering RNAs (siRNAs), microRNAs (miRNAs) and Piwi-associated interfering RNAs (piRNAs) in invertebrates. Like other invertebrates, the shrimp innate immune system is triggered by the recognition of the invading microbes by the molecules called Pattern Recognition Proteins (PRPs). The PRPs recognize and bind to the microbes and activate various immune responses. For viral pathogens, the shrimp specific PRPs could respond to the ssRNA and dsRNA from viruses in order to initiate the RNAi pathways. Using WSSV (DNA virus) and TSV (RNA virus) as examples, an RNAi pathway in shrimp is graphically illustrated (Figure 1). In term of the siRNA mediated antiviral responses in shrimp, dsRNAs can be generated from the replication intermediate of DNA or RNA viruses. Shrimp Dicer-2 recognizes and cuts the dsRNA into 22–24 ribonucleotide siRNAs. Then, siRNAs are sent to an RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) (containing Ago2) and degrade viral RNAs. The miRNAs are first transcribed to long pri-mRNAs from shrimp or viral DNA genome. The pri-miRNA is cut into the pre-miRNA by Drosha in the nucleus. Then pre-miRNA is exported to the cytoplasm for further processing by Dicer-1. The miRNA:miRNA* duplex intermediate is incorporated into RISC (containing Ago1), and one chain stays in the RISC to bind target mRNAs, followed by target mRNAs either being degraded or the translation being inhibited. Since the discovery of RNAi mechanisms, major proteins involved in RNAi pathways have been identified in penaeid shrimp. Drosha, Dicer 1 and Dicer 2 proteins, different types of Argonaute proteins (the key component of RISC), as well as several members of transactivation response RNA-binding protein  47

Shrimp Table 2 Application of RNAi in shrimp antiviral studies (Modified from Lima et al., 2013) Shrimp Species P. monondon

(TRBP) have been characterized in various shrimp species. Details are summarized in Table 1. These findings validate the existence of RNAi machinery in penaeid shrimp, but the understanding of RNAi systems in shrimp is still quite limited. To date, there is a growing body of evidence that administration of synthesized dsRNA or siRNA could protect shrimp against viral infections (Table 2). Administration of dsRNA or siRNA specific to particular viral genes have shown protective effects in suppressing viral replication in vivo and inhibiting the viral disease progression, such as WSSV, YHV, IMNV, TSV, gill associated virus (GAV), and DNV among others. RNAi delivery systems, such as oral delivery vs. injection have been evaluated. From a practical point of view, oral administration of dsRNA or siRNA through feeding is more desirable than individual shrimp injection. However, the issue of insufficient delivery of the designated RNA when passing from the gut to the hemolymph via digestion and absorption processes, especially due to degradation of the RNA constructs by the gut enzymes such as nucleases, should be carefully con48 »

P. vannamei

M. japonicus

F. chinensis

Protection against virus

Target gene




YHV-pro, hel, RdRP, gp116, gp65 YHV-pro




YHV-pro, Rab7




vp15, vp28 vp19, vp28




Rab7, rr2




ns1, vp


ns1, vp




GAV, ß-actin










dnapol, rr2, tk-tmk, vp24, vp28 duck (Ig)vH chain




vp26, vp28


duck (Ig) vH chain


rr2, dnapol, ORF






ORF1, 2, 3




ORF1a, 1b, 2










vp28, vp28-1, protein kinase

RNAi inducer

RNAi delivery method

In vitro transcribed dsRNA In vitro transcribed dsRNA Bacterially expressed dsRNA Bacterially expressed dsRNA Bacterially expressed dsRNA Bacterially expressed hairpin dsRNA siRNA Vector-based lhRNA Bacterially expressed dsRNA Bacterially expressed dsRNA Bacterially expressed dsRNA Bacterially expressed dsRNA Bacterially expressed dsRNA Bacterially expressed dsRNA Bacterially expressed dsRNA Vector-based lhRNA Bacterially expressed dsRNA Bacterially expressed dsRNA In vitro transcribed dsRNA In vitro transcribed siRNA In vitro transcribed dsRNA/chemically synthesized siRNA In vitro transcribed dsRNA In vitro transcribed dsRNA In vitro transcribed dsRNA In vitro transcribed dsRNA In vitro transcribed dsRNA In vitro transcribed dsRNA Bacterially expressed dsRNA In vitro transcribed dsRNA In vitro transcribed dsRNA In vitro transcribed dsRNA In vitro transcribed dsRNA In vitro transcribed siRNA Bacterially expressed siRNA In vitro transcribed dsRNA




Assavalapsakul et al., 2006 Tirasophon et al.,2005


Yodmuang et al., 2006


Tirasophon et al.,2007


Posiri et al., 2011


Posiri et al., 2013

Injection Injection

Westenberg et al., 2005 Krishnan et al., 2009


Sarathi et al., 2008a


Attasart et al., 2009


Sarathi et al., 2008b


Attasart et al., 2011


Attasart et al., 2010


Ongvarrasopone et al., 2010 Sellars et al., 2011

Oral Injection


Saksmerprome et al., 2009 Assavalapsakul et al., 2009 Taju et al., 2015


Huang&Zhang, 2013


Wu et al., 2008


Labreuche et al., 2010


Liu et al., 2011


Mejia-Ruiz et al., 2011


Robalino et al., 2004


Robalino et al., 2005

Injection Injection

Ongvarrasopone et al., 2011 Snapin et al., 2010


Ho et al., 2011


Loy et al., 2012


Feijó et al., 2015


Li et al., 2007


Sudhakaran et al., 2011


Xu et al., 2007


Zhu et al., 2011


Kim et al., 2007


The RNAi response is crucial in controlling virus replication and limiting virus induced pathology and inherently provides specific antiviral response.

sidered in experimental design and investigation. There is great potential for adopting RNAi technology against various infectious diseases, and eventually developing effective strategies for controlling the viral diseases. However, the basic research and application of RNAi technology in shrimp aquaculture are still in very early developmental stages, with several serious challenges. Firstly, lack of whole genome sequences and no permanent shrimp line to study RNAi mechanism in shrimp and host-pathogen interaction at the molecular level. This will be needed in order to develop the most suitable strategies against pathogens. Secondly, lack of standardization methods of assays and inconsistent results generated from the various studies is a fundamental issue that needs to be addressed systematically. Thirdly, the development and employment of safe, feasible, and both functionally- and cost-effective de-

livery methods of RNAi to shrimp at specific stage(s) deserves to be further explored. Nonetheless, the future of applying RNAi in controlling viral diseases in shrimp is highly promising from both preventive and therapeutic perspectives, with more understanding of the integrated immune network of shrimp and its interaction with viral pathogens.

Hui Gong, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the College of Natural and Applied Sciences at the University of Guam. Her expertise in shrimp aquaculture has built on 17 years of experience in applied research in both academic and industrial backgrounds.

Âť 49


Epigenetics and Fish Nutrition – Part 2

“There is always so much talk about the sins of the fathers, but it is the sins of the mothers that are the most difficult to avoid repeating”. By By Paul B. Brown, Bo Liu and Aimin Wang*


elanie Benjamin is a contemporary author, born in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her quote is an updated version of Euripides’ (484 BC – 406 BC) quote “The gods visit the sins of the father upon the children”. Our article will not address sins of parents, but the influences of stressors on parents, both mom and dad, and their effects on offspring. Sounds dangerously close to genetics, we realize, but as suggested in our previous article, perhaps it is time for nutrition and genetics to combine forces and move aquaculture forward. In our initial article on epigenetics, we discussed the biochemical link between nutrition and genetics. In this article we

50 »

Melanie Benjamin, Alice I Have Been, 2010

explore additional links between the disciplines and point to a few areas where epigenetics research might be used to improve practical aquacultural production. The Developmental, or Fetal, Origins of Adult Disease (DoAD) hypothesis was initially established by epidemiological studies of human cohorts experiencing increased incidence of disease. Significant, population-wide, restrictions in food availability in human cohorts during the 20th century were associated with increased incidence of disease in the adults born during those food restricted periods. Restricted access to food resulted in intrauterine growth restriction and infants that were small at birth. Adverse health impacts in adults born during these food restricted periods include hypertension, obesity, obstructive airway disease, increased mortal-

ity at age 50, dyslipidemia, diabetes, coronary artery disease, schizophrenia, and antisocial personality disorder. Recent studies identified several forms of cancer were also linked to inadequate nutrition during gestation. As molecular biology evolved, linkages were clearly established between food restriction during early developmental periods, gene expression patterns and susceptibility to disease in adults (epigenetic regulation). Further, the initial DoAD hypothesis evolved as new information became available. The initial diseases identified in human populations led to the thrifty phenotype hypothesis (TPH). The TPH suggested that food restriction during early developmental stages establishes a gene expression pattern that allows the adult to thrive when faced with food restriction. Conversely, disease incidence increases

The initial diseases identified in human populations led to the thrifty phenotype hypothesis (TPH).

Âť 51


when food restriction is removed, or adequate food is available, because the gene expression pattern has been established to thrive in the face of restricted food resources and cannot be altered when conditions change. The TPH evolved into the Predictive Adaptive Response (PAR) with the association between early life history nutrient inputs and effects on reproductive strategies. Inadequate early life nutrition and psychosocial stress in human populations results in females having their first children at earlier ages than cohorts not experiencing growth restriction or psychosocial stress. Thus, an expansion of the TPH to a broader classification system was adopted to encompass not only nutrition and disease, but also reproductive strategies. The PAR remains a focal point in contemporary research on human evolutionary patterns. Inadequate food availability or psychosocial stressors in early developmental periods can alter gene expression patterns through the life of the individual and those same gene expression patterns can be passed on to future generations. Do we have any situations in aquaculture analogous to this developing phenomenon in humans?

Feeding larval fish, crustaceans and mollusks is challenging simply because of their initial size and the physical restrictions on size of food organisms they can ingest.

52 Âť

Feeding larval fish, crustaceans and mollusks is challenging simply because of their initial size and the physical restrictions on size of food organisms they can ingest. Can we assume all individuals within a cohort of small larvae fish, crustaceans or mollusks obtain adequate food and what are the potential consequences of inadequate food intake? Based on the PAR, we might speculate that growth might be something less than maximum and sexual maturation would occur earlier than in non-stressed organisms. Neither of these are desirable traits in aquaculture. Further, those gene expression patterns can be inherited by offspring. Are we unconsciously breeding inferior organisms and perpetuating traits that jeopardize economic viability? What psychosocial stressors affect gene expression patterns in juvenile aquaculture organisms? Thermal fluctuations (Campos et al. 2014, Aquaculture 432:418-425), degraded water quality, fear of humans? Have you seen cohorts of aquaculture animals that simply did not do well? Failed to thrive? Personally, we have seen groups that simply did not do well even though rearing conditions appeared within acceptable tolerances. The research challenge for the future is to identify what early life history factors impact future growth and health of culture organisms, determine if these individuals have value as broodstock, and explore methods of altering the DNA methylation patterns established by early life history stressors. There is much work to do (see the number of question marks in this article) and it will require interdisciplinary teams of scientists, but the results could have profound impacts on seafood production systems in the 21st century.

Dr. Paul Brown is Professor of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources of Purdue University. Brown has served as Associate Editor for the Progressive Fish-Culturist and the Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, among many others. Dr. Liu is Head, Department of Nutrition, Freshwater Fisheries Research Center, Wuxi, China and Dr. Wang is Associate Professor, Department of Ocean Technology, Yancheng Institute of Technology, Yancheng, China.� Photo courtesy of Cecilia Castellanos Nichols.

» 53


Tilapia versus other proteins. Not the aquatic chicken just yet. The fresh tilapia fillet market in North America has not grown in over 10 years; it is flat year after year at around 1 million pounds per week. Price is not the only challenge holding back fresh fillet volume in North America; I believe there are other factors at play. Globally, farmed tilapia By Mike Picchietti*


Other, older tilapia producers challenge for new Brazilian, Vietnamese and Mexican producers targeting the US tilapia fillet market. First you have to realize that other more established tilapia producers in China, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Honduras, Ecuador and Colombia who have a head start in the market must be considered. In the fresh fillet market the growth of new tilapia producers was only because another tilapia producer, for one reason or another, left the market. For example Ecuador, once the biggest producer left tilapia, to go after more profits in shrimp. This greatly helped emerging Honduran and Mexican fresh fillets. They simply replaced the Ecuadorian 54 Âť

is only 3% of farmed chicken production.

and some of the Costa Rican supply, however - no growth - the same gross amount of 1 million pounds per week remains. The other challenge for tilapia fillet sales are low prices for Asian catfish and frozen tilapia from China, pushing down the overall tilapia prices for whole, frozen and fresh tilapia. Even though it’s frozen, Chinese tilapia fillets and whole fish still set a bench mark price for around $2/ lb., for fillets., less than $1.00/ lb. for whole, with non-Chinese (Indonesian, Thai, Mexican) frozen fillets selling closer to $3/lb. But non-Chinese frozen fillets compete in less than 10% of the frozen fillet market. There is certainly downward price pressure from the Asian catfish and

Chinese frozen fillet volume impacting the fresh fillets. In the US, fresh fillets sell to the consumer in the grocery store at $7 to $9/lb. versus Chinese frozen in the supermarket at $3.99 /lb. to the consumer. Thus, frozen tilapia fillet are 100% cheaper than fresh fillets. This impacts the volume and growth of fresh fillets. Frozen Asian catfish and tilapia fillets have taken much of the growth in tilapia, in fact frozen tilapia fillets sell 650% more volume than fresh tilapia fillets. From a price standpoint one problem with fresh fillets is that logistics, transportation and significant losses from spoilage increase the cost. Even though a US grocery chain can buy fresh tilapia fish fillets at $4/ Miami from producers, they must sell to consumers at $8/lb. and still

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Table 1 HISTORY of the USA FRESH TILAPIA FILLET MARKET 1993-2014 Year 1993 1994 1995 2000 2005 2010 2014

Volume/Year 1,289,547 1,958,910 3,213,009 16,504,050 50,003,943 52,187,702 55,738,161

Volume/Week 25,000 38,000 62,000 317,385 961,614 1,003,609 1,071,887

Table 2 FRESH TILAPIA FILLET PRODUCERS 2015 JANURY TO AUGUST Country Total in Lbs HONDURAS 13,774,900 COLOMBIA 7,871,432 COSTA RICA 7,503,511 ECUADOR 4,195,320 MEXICO 3,628,838 OTHERS 1,481,235 TOTAL 35 WKS 37,526,370

Lbs per wk 393,568 224,898 214,386 119,866 103,681 42,321 1,072,182

% of supply 37 21 20 11 10 4

Avg/week over12 months will be lower, as Lent sales already counted. Source: NMFS

Table 3 Frozen Tilapia Fillets 2015 January to August. Source - NMFS Country Total Lbs 35wks Total Lbs/wk % share CHINA 204,019,978 5,829,142 90.0 INDONESIA 14,062,756 401,793 6.0 MEXICO 2,344,500 66,986 1.0 THAILAND 1,772,034 50,629 0.8 TAIWAN 1,742,527 49,786 0.75 HONDURAS 1,166,616 33,331 0.5 VIETNAM 719,750 20,564 0.3 MALAYSIA 455,897 13,025 0.2

Table 4 FRESH FISH CONSUMPTION USA – 2015 per week Extrapolated boness fillets Type           Amount          Landed Cost     Consumer Cobia          15,000            $ 9.50 $ 20 - 25 Grouper       50,000           $ 8.18            $ 20 Snapper      221,129          $ 5.75            $ 15 - 20 Sea Bass     104,434           $ 6.00            $ 25 USCatfish 750,000 $ 4.25            $ 7.99  Farmed 5,324,403          $ 5.00            $ 10.99 Salmon      Yellowfin      656,822           $ 9.44            $ 23 Tuna  Tilapia 1,00,000 $ 4.00            $ 7.99              

56 »

don’t make the huge margin that one would think from a 100% gross margin because of losses from old fish, due to shelf life constraints.

Other Species What other species and products being offered in the market may have something to tell us about how to position fresh tilapia fillets in the North American or Mexican market? Let’s look at some of the aspects of the other main species. Farm Raised CATFISH For farm raised catfish we see a similar production and market dynamic taking place as the fresh and frozen tilapia supply in Mexico and USA markets. The amount of catfish fillets in Mexico has surpassed tilapia in grocery stores. Salvador Mesa told me something like 70,000 MT of catfish Vs 50,000 MT of tilapia… Fresh catfish is being produced on North American farms and the frozen is recently coming from Asia. US Farm raised catfish estimates for 2015 will be 300 million pounds on a whole live weight basis. Of this 100,000,000 will be processed into fresh fillets. Fresh fillet volume is expected at 750,000 pounds/week. Like Chinese frozen tilapia fillets, an Asian supplier (Vietnam) controls 80% of the frozen catfish fillet market in the USA, from Vietnam alone frozen fillet sales are 4 million pounds per week. Thus fresh catfish fillet volume is about 6X – 7X lower than frozen catfish fillets, same as tilapia. The price of fresh vs frozen catfish fillets is even more different than tilapia. Frozen “basa” fillets from Vietnam cost $1.75/lb while fresh fillets ex plant in the US are $4.25/lb, again a difference of over 100%. As early as 2002, the USA had almost 200,000 water acres for channel catfish production. Then around 2006 the Vietnamese came into town with Basa/Panga catfish

at 100% lower prices for frozen fillets. The impact? By 2015 there were only 69,000 water acres remaining in the USA for catfish i.e., 127,000 acres going back to soy and other row crops. Catfish consumption in the USA was 0.60 lbs. per capita in 2014. However US Catfish is doing better, and adjusting and organizing to meet this crisis. They have good leadership in their industry on the US side. They have USDA government support, they have a political lobby in Washington attacking their competitors in Vietnam and most importantly they have strong producer organizations and the Catfish Institute. The ownership of the catfish industry is more diverse than the fresh tilapia producers. In US catfish, the production model is different, you have a lot of land owners who grow catfish and sell to the processors, giving them a voice in the industry and this is how you gain political leverage to help your market. They have State Universities doing genetic research for them and all kinds of State and Federal assistance programs for the employees.

Salmon Salmon consumption in the USA in 2013 data- 2.05 pounds per capita of farmed and 0.65 pounds per capita of wild. Normally wild salmon volume per capita is 5 – 10X less than farmed, it depends on the inconsistent salmon runs from year to year. Farmed salmon is indeed a big competitor for tilapia, even though importers sell skin on fresh salmon portions around the $5/lb range and they are purchased by consumers in the $9-10/lb grocery store price. Fresh farmed salmon fillet sales are 5,300,000 pounds per week i.e., 500% more volume than tilapia at 50% higher prices! Whenever salmon fillets are running ad’s (lower price) in the grocery stores, tilapia sales suffer.

Table 5 USA Per Capita Consumption of Poultry, Beef, Pork, Seafood every 10 years 1965 - 2015 Total Year 1965 1975 1985 1995 2005 2015

Beef (Lb.) 74.7 88.2 79.0 66.4 65.4 54.3

Pork (Lb.) 51.5 42.9 51.5 51.5 49.6 49.7

Chicken/ Turkey (Lb.) 44.4 46.9 64.0 86.5 103.0 105.6

During the last decade the salmon farming industry has been through a period of consolidation in all regions. The consolidation of the industry is expected to continue. Historically, the salmon industry has been made up by many, small firms. In Chile there are at least 20 owners of salmon farms whereas in Norway there are around 80 owners of the production. What I admire about the salmon industry is that they seem to have more unity, better PR, better promotions, they protect their species image and as an industry they are willing to promote farmed salmon generically. Another impact (sometimes negative sometimes positive) is the influence of all the companies involved in promoting wild salmon, they have the state of Alaska and many processors and fisherman. The buy-in is large and a greater sense of “own-

Meat/ Poultry (Lb.) 178.4 183.3 197.8 206.5 219.5 210.8

Seafood (Lb.) 10.9 12.1 15.0 14.8 16.2 14.0

USA Population (Millions) 194.3 215.9 237.9 266.2 295.5 321.6

ership” with fisherman, processors, and suppliers all promoting salmon through their combined efforts and investments. Again, combined marketing and promotional efforts tilapia producers can only dream about. We have to study them too…

Ocean caught fresh gutted & fillet Another group of fishes that fresh tilapia is positioned with in the market is ocean-caught wild species. Trying to compare fresh tilapia fillets with fresh ocean-caught species may not hold much relevance? Al-

% Pop. Growth per 10 yrs 11% 8% 12% 11% 9%

though cumulatively their consumption equals fresh tilapia fillet weekly volumes, the supply is not consistent and the price much higher. Ocean fresh cobia or grouper selling at $20/ lb to the consumer? Thus the volume of these individual Gulf ocean species is only 33,000 -100,000 pounds per week and its impossible for a restaurant chain to put on the menu because supply cannot keep up with demand which explains the high price and limited consumption. This is the 1% dinner for high end restaurants in the major cities where the money is. Fresh tilapia is 10X

Tilapia were not even 1% of USA protein consumption in 2014.

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Chilean Sea Bass $28.99

more sales volume of the individual species and 300-400% lower in price than fresh ocean fish FILLETS, so until they are farmed I don’t see any competition from these fishes. In fact they help support seafood in general, giving a positive impact because they are so delicious.

Growth rates of farmed chickens increased 400% from 1957 to 2005, with only half the feed.

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Yellowfin Tuna $24.99

Hog Snapper $21.99

SwordFish $19.99

Other Meats – Beef, Pork, and Poultry The real players in the protein food business are not seafoods, they are poultry, beef and pork who are tons ahead of anything in seafood, especially poultry. Seafood is just a side show and tilapia even more. This is the real target the tilapia industry should look at to increase our sales. We should look more towards poultry to provide us perspective of what is possible for production and consumption. If we look at the numbers (show graph) Poultry sales in the US in 1965 were 45 pounds per capita, and the population in 1965 was 194 million, thus poultry production was 8,536,000,000 pounds/year or 164 M pounds per week. US poultry consumption in 2014 was 100 pounds per capita but the population was 322 million. That’s

Grouper $20.99

32,200,000,000 pounds /year or 619 M per week in 2014, NOT including eggs. (Remember, all tilapia - fresh, frozen fillet and whole - is around 8 million pounds per week). Poultry doubled per capita from 45 – 100 pounds, but total production increased 400% with the growth in US population. Pork and Beef on a per capita basis are actually down from 1965 to nowadays. In 2014 beef was 54 pounds and pork 45 pounds per capita. Thus combined beef, pork and poultry is 200 pounds per capita while seafood is 14 pounds and tilapia 1.4 pounds… TILAPIA WERE NOT EVEN 1% OF US PROTEIN CONSUMPTION in 2014 !!! Mexico is the 6th largest egg producing country and has the largest per capita consumption in the world. Prior to the avian influenza outbreak, per capita consumption of eggs in Mexico during 2011 was 22.4

Table 6 USA BROILER PERFORMANCE 1925 TO 2015 -- IMPACT OF GENETICS YEAR MARKET AGE (days) 1925 112 1935 98 1945 84 1955 70 1965 63 1975 56 1985 49 1995 47 2005 48 2014 47

MARKET WEIGHT (Lb.) 2.50 2.86 3.03 3.07 3.48 3.76 4.19 4.67 5.03 6.12

kilograms (approximately 330 eggs) per person i.e. almost 1 per day PER MEXICAN. Mexican per capita poultry consumption is 70 pounds, with beef and veal at 16 pounds/ person. Seafood consumption in Mexico between 2007-2009 (on average) was 25.4 pounds per capita, and tilapia consumption in Mexico is 5 pounds per capita. Population in Mexico is currently 125 Million. So tilapia, if we include pork, is maybe 2% of protein consumption? Globally, Farmed poultry consumption was 108 million metric tons in 2014. Farmed tilapia, globally, is under 5 million metric tons. In addition farmed chicken eggs provide and additional 8.57 kilos of eggs per capita globally... That’s equivalent to 195 eggs per person per year. Weight wise its 62 billion kilos or 62 million tons of eggs. This is in addition to the 108 million tons of chicken meat. Farmed chicken meat and eggs is 170 million MTs. Farmed tilapia is 5 million MT, so tilapia is only 3% of farmed chicken !!!!!!!!!

Conclusion I think the target for tilapia to aim at is poultry. This is our big brother, and we have to learn something from this industry. Poultry is the big picture. Once we start positioning tilapia as a food the average consumer can buy every day or at least every week, we will be into something and

DAYS/LB 44.8 34.3 27.7 22.8 18.1 14.9 11.7 10.1 8.9 7.5

FCR 4.7 4.4 4.0 3.0 2.4 2.1 2.0 1.95 1.95 1.89

MORT. (%) 18 14 10 7 6 5 5 5 4 4.3

have continual growth in the market because we have a better product, nutritionally, environmentally, socially and economically. Just imagine when we get our genetic programs finally working. The impact that genetics has made on broiler chickens is a significant reason for their massive success. Chicken dosen´t taste like anything, except air! It’s all genetics. Growth from 1957 to 2005 was increased 400%, with a 50% reduction in FCR. In 1925 it took 44 days to get 1 pound of chicken. By 2005 it took 8 days to get 1 pound of chicken with half the feed. Imagine what impact that will have on the price of tilapia and the consumption when we learn and have the investment for the genetics in tilapia? With population expected to increase to 9.6 billion by 2050, the UN estimates with the same per capita consumption we’re going to need 40% more seafood overall than the current numbers, and tilapia should increase even more considering the better costs and sustainability of the species versus the others. Beside genetics, I think we need to consider more joint efforts in market defense and market offense programs. We suffer greatly from the lack of unity in the tilapia industry. In the US tilapia farmers tried to organize The America’s Tilapia Alliance (ATA). It was conceived and adapted to address some of these issues but

very few came to the table with ideas and funding in a joint generic effort. Look at the advantages the other meats have with their producer buyin promoting their products in the market. The USDA, the Beef Council, the Milk, Pork and Egg trade groups. In all these private support groups, it’s staggering the amount of farmer participation. This is what we’re competing against in tilapia. For the tilapia industry there are too few owners. Look at the current fresh tilapia production ownership, 70% of the fresh fillet ownership is in the hands of only 2 owners or companies. Are they going to represent the whole industry? Don’t hold your breath expecting GAA or ASC to promote tilapia to the consumer, that’s not happening. These certifications are about certain producers selling fish to certain buyers, and I’ve seen zero consumer targeted marketing. Producers should demand these groups make a significant focus on product defense and promotion to the consumer. Tilapia producers lack a generic promotion vehicle to promote and defend the industry. The social media has allowed a big misinformation hit against tilapia, perhaps even removing it from the plates of Millenials? No wonder the fresh tilapia fillet numbers have been flat for 10 years!

Mike Picchietti discovered tilapia farming while serving as a Peace Corps in Ghana and went on to become co-founder and President of Regal Springs Trading. With 33 years of experience, he is the owner of Aquasafra, Inc., America’s oldest and largest tilapia hatchery.

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Aquaculture Economics, Management, and Marketing

Steps in the Process of Developing

a Strategic Marketing Plan The first step towards developing a strategic marketing plan is to set By Carole R. Engle Engle-Stone Aquatic$ LLC


he previous Economics and Marketing column discussed a number of factors and trends that are driving changes in seafood markets. This column focuses on specific questions and steps needed to develop a strategic marketing plan for your aquaculture business. Figure 1 presents a checklist that can be completed as a guide.

Step 1: Set short-term and longterm business goals The first step towards developing a strategic marketing plan is to set specific goals for both the short and the long-term. It is best to draft a written description of your expectations for the business that includes estimated profit targets for the next several 60 Âť

specific goals for both the short and the long-term.

Working carefully through realistic answers to the above questions for your business will give you an estimate of the volume of product that you will likely be able to sell and the price you will likely receive. years. How much profit will make this business be worthwhile for you? Is this a hobby for supplemental income or do you intend for this to be your only source of income? How much time are you willing and able to devote to this business on a regular basis? Your availability of time will play a key role in how intensive the production and marketing strategies can be. It is important that you carefully and objectively assess the strengths and weaknesses that you bring to the business. Do you have all the skills and expertise that you will need for your business? These may include: aquaculture production, horticulture production (for aquaponics), marketing, finance, plumbing, electrical skills, and equipment maintenance skills. You will need to hire or contract with someone for the skills and expertise that you do not have. What is your consolidated (across personal and other business interests) financial position? How much equity can you contribute to the business? If your debt-to-asset ratio is approaching 100%, your financial position is weak and it would be unwise to take on additional debt.

customer base is and why they would buy your product and not someone else’s. It is critical to write down a description of what need and unique benefit your product fills for customers, as prompted in Figure 1. Then, keeping that need and benefit in mind, write out specific information related to the product that you intend to sell, including the number and types of species of animals or plants, the product form(s) (i.e. fresh, frozen),and the size of each type of product and packaging.

Step 2b: Identify your target markets The checklist in Figure 1 also prompts you to write out a detailed description of your target markets. Who, specifically, wants to buy what you can uniquely provide? Your answer should include the following considerations: lifestyle factors, age groups, gender, ethnicities, and income groups.

Where do the types of people you are targeting do their purchasing? You must identify the specific geographic area, city/state, and the size of your targeted market area. Do your prospective customers purchase from the Internet? How many people are there in your targeted market area? Of the total population, what percent are likely to purchase a product like yours? Of those, what percent are you likely to lure away from products that currently meet needs similar to those provided by your product? How much of your product are they likely to purchase? What price will they likely be willing to pay for the quantity they are likely to purchase? Working carefully through realistic answers to the above questions for your business will give you an estimate of the volume of product that you will likely be able to sell and the price you will likely receive. This gives you an estimate of the revenue

Step 2a: Define what you are really selling An effective marketing strategy requires clear definition of who your Âť 61

Aquaculture Economics, Management, and Marketing Figure 1 CHECKLIST FOR DEVELOPING A STRATEGIC MARKETING PLAN. Step 1: Set short-term and long-term business goals. 1. Description of expectations for your business. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ 2. Profit goals for the first three years. Year 1 2 3

Profit Goal $ $ $

3. How many hours per week are you willing to work on this business? ________________hours/week 4. Your strengths and weaknesses as related to this business. Strengths


5. How much equity you are willing and able to invest in this business? $_____________________________ 6. Your current debt-to-asset ratio (including personal and other business ventures). ____________________% Step 2a: Define what you are really selling 7. What need does your product fill for customers? _________________________________________________________________________________________ 8. What unique benefits does your product provide? ________________________________________________________________________________________ 9. Which species and how many species will you raise? ______________________________________________________________________________________ 10. What product form will you sell (fresh, frozen)? _________________________________________________________________________________________ 11. What type and size of packaging will you use? __________________________________________________________________________________________ Step 2b: Identify your target markets 12. Who, specifically, will buy what you can uniquely provide? __________________________________________________________________________________ 13. Where are these customers? List the geographic areas, Internet, etc __________________________________________________________________________ 14. How many people are in this geographic area? _________________________________________________________________________________________ 15. Of the total population in your target market area, what percent are likely to purchase your product? ____________________________________________________ 16. Of the total population in your market area, what percent will you likely be able to attract from their current vendors? ________________________________________ 17. How much product is each customer likely to purchase and how often? ________________________________________________________________________ 18. What price will your targeted customers be likely to pay? __________________________________________________________________________________ Step 2c: Develop a Promotion/Advertising Plan 19. What will be the key advertising message for your product? ________________________________________________________________________________ 20. What types of advertising will you use? ______________________________________________________________________________________________ 21. What will be the frequency of the advertisements used? ___________________________________________________________________________________ 22. What will be the total cost of advertising? _____________________________________________________________________________________________

62 Âť

equipment needed. A sourcing plan will be needed that shows how you will attract the raw material that the plant will need. If area farmers are already selling to a plant, what incentives will be needed to attract them to sell to you? A detailed sales plan will be needed that includes targeted volumes, targeted customers, geographic spread of sales, and the sales force. A separate financial plan will be needed to assess the overall feasibility of the processing operation. A plan for distribution of the product will be needed that includes all the components listed for a processing plant. In addition, the types and numbers of trucks, the mileage to sales locations, the frequency of delivery, the volume to be delivered on each trip, refrigeration, and temperature control capabilities will need to be estimated.

Step 3: Processing and/or distribution Additional decisions that need to be Step 2c: Develop an effective made in the strategic marketing plan promotion/advertising plan involve whether the business will enOnce the key markets and targets gage in processing and distribution. have been chosen, an effective pro- If your targeted market segment remotion and advertising program quires a processed product, you will needs to be put in place. An effective need to decide whether to contract plan is based on definition of a key processing or to start a small-scale advertising message that communi- plant to process fish, plants, or othcates the unique benefits that your er products. If the latter, a separate product will provide as well as the plan will be needed that includes the best form and frequency of advertis- following: 1) a production and opering (i.e. word-of-mouth, flyers, radio, ations plan that describes the plant’s TV, etc.) for your targeted market. scope and scale, its location, health The cost of the advertising program department and other processing must be estimated carefully. regulations, labor requirements, and that you may expect from your business.

Step 4: Tie the Marketing Strategy Back into the Overall Plan for the Business The final step is to tie the marketing strategy and plan back to the overall business plan. Do your sales goals match the goals of your production plan? Will your marketing plan achieve the price needed for the business to be profitable? If not, the plan must be adjusted until these parts of the business are well aligned.

Carole Engle holds a B.A. degree in Biology/Rural Development from Friends World College and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Auburn University where she specialized in aquaculture economics. Dr. Engle is a past-President of the U.S. Aquaculture Society and the International Association of Aquaculture Economics and Management. She is currently a Principal in Engle-Stone Aquatic$ LLC, and can be reached at

Âť 63


Recent news from around the globe by

These are some of the highlights of the past few weeks at

By Suzi Dominy*

How will we replace fishmeal and oil? y now, we all know that the nature of aquafeed is undergoing rapid change. Fishmeal and fish oil, once staple ingredients, are now seen as unsustainable, and the race to replace them is well underway. A recent report published by the Norwegian research institute, Nofima, shows that at least 70 per cent of the raw materials in feed comes from plant sources. Most of these raw materials, such as soy protein concentrate, maize protein, and canola oil, have been included in salmon feeds for the past 15 years. Researchers in Canada say the best match to the fatty acid composition of fish oil is oil from a plant called camelina, a member of the mustard family, a distant relative to canola. After four years of studies, approval by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is pending. However, although camelina oil comes close to matching fish oil, it is missing two key fatty acids: ETA and DHA. So even if you replaced most of the fish oil with camelina oil, you would


64 »

still need to put a little bit of fishmeal and fish oil in the diet, the researchers say. Algae is much touted as a potential alternative to fish oil replacement but investment is needed to scale up algae oil production to meet the demand from aquaculture. Global production of algal Omega 3 in 2014 only reached some 1,400 metric tonnes (MT) - and almost all of that targeted the higher profit margins of the human supplement market. Research into Single Cell Protein (SCP) goes back decades. In the 1960s BP Nutrition launched an SCP product into the feed market and researchers began looking at bacteria, yeast, fungi and algae to produce protein biomass. SCPs have not really taken off, but perhaps now the time is right. The Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) is investigating how fibers from Norway’s famous coniferous trees can be converted into yeast to create aquafeed. NMBU says the yeast can replace 40 per cent of fishmeal in Atlantic salmon. At the commercial level, Nutrinsic Corp opened a 5,000 metric tons produc-

tion facility located with MillerCoors brewery’s water reclamation facility in May. Through a patented process, the facility creates an ecosystem where bacteria can thrive and convert nutrients into a protein ingredient. This ingredient has been successfully tested with a variety of aquatic and terrestrial animals, according to the company. Insects hold the promise of providing a real answer to fishmeal replacement, and one that arguably poses the most natural solution… if it can just get through the approval process. The long awaited European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)’s Scientific Opinion on the potential risks associated with using insects as feed has just been published. Their conclusion was that more research is needed. The EC-funded PROteINSECT project is currently running feeding trials in Europe, China and Africa, Results of the project’s on-going work into assessing chemical, allergy and microbiological risks from insects and the substrates on which they are fed will be communicated over the

solve the problems altogether, at least for shrimp. Using sea urchins and shrimp as models, UAB scientists discovered that one species could feed another from its waste, without needing to use feed at all. Sea urchin pellets are full of nutrients and healthy bacteria and, according to the researchers, help shrimp grow faster and larger than they did when consuming shrimp feed. “When you have urchins present, you won’t need the shrimp feed,” said the research team leader, Dr. Steve Watts. “What we’ve found is that the shrimp do very well when just consuming the urchin pellets alone — they grow large fast and stay healthy. In many cases, they exceeded the growth rate of shrimp fed the expensive feed.”

Benchmark Holdings confirms Inve acquisition hopes In a move that has surprised the international aquaculture Salmon pellets. Courtesy NOAA. sector and would constitute a reverse takeover under the AIM rules, the UK-listed biotech firm Benchmark Holdcoming months and will contribute to the development ings has confirmed that it is contemplating the potential of a White Paper to be placed before the European Par- acquisition of the Dutch-based Inve Aquaculture Holdliament to support the ongoing debate concerning regula- ing, which prides itself on providing “high-tech, costtion and legislation that will drive the use of insect protein effective nutrition and health tools for the aquaculture industry”. in feed. Changes in the ingredient profile of aquafeeds not only effects the price tag and the formulation of the feed, it effects the way it needs to be processed. The Research Council of Norway has been quick to understand this and has awarded $3.7 million for the establishment of The Aquafeed Technology Centre in Bergen - a joint initiative with the Norwegian food research institute Nofima, the University of Bergen, Uni Research and the University of Nottingham, U.K. Dr. Mari Moren, Director of Research at the Department of Nutrition and Feed Technology at Nofima, said research is expected to start early next year. In an extrusion trial, Buhler replaced the fish meal in a fish feed with insect meal (Hermetia meal) and will reveal data and processing conditions for optimal cooking and bulk density during’s 9th Aquafeed Horizons Asia conference, to be held March 29, 2016 in Bangkok (see for conference details). He joins a team of aquafeed experts from industry and applied science, many of whom will zero in on fishmeal replacement issues. One of those is Dr. Alexandros Samartzis of Evonik, who says the latest experimental studies indicate that the substitution of fishmeal with alternative protein sources do not affect the growth, survival and feed conversion ratio of shrimp, as long as nutrient composition, including amino acid profiles, are balanced to cover the species’ nutrient requirements. He will discuss the digestibility coefficient of crude protein and individual amino acids of many ingredients during the meeting. Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Alabama (UAB) at Birmingham appear to have found a way to » 65


Skretting sponsors aquaculture research facility in Tasmania, Australia The University of Tasmania has opened a $6.5 million aquaculture research facility at Taroona, cosponsored by Skretting Australia, the Commonwealth and Tasmanian governments, the Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre, the University of Tasmania, and Huon Aquaculture Group. Construction on the facility was completed in September and the first salmon have arrived. The site will test the use of recirculation water systems in salmon production, and has specially designed tanks to control environmental conditions including temperature, that will enable researchers to examine climate change effects relevant to local conditions. It will also support development of different types of feed; feeds that optimize the use of marine ingredients, feeds that can be used to supply health treatments, and feeds that produce efficient growth over a range of temperatures. The experimental research facility is managed by the University’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) and will facilitate collaborative research, particularly with the Atlantic salmon industry, on fish health and nutrition. In particular, the facility will support the control of amoebic gill disease, Tasmania’s most costly disease, by speeding up investigations into suitable treatments. Breaking new ground with feed machinery standards There are more than 30,000 feed mills in the world. More than 100 countries and regions are involved in the import and export business of feed machinery every year. Yet policies governing feed machinery manufacturing and the feed industry in general differ widely across countries. To help harmonize market practices worldwide, a new ISO technical committee (ISO/ 66 »

Trout feeds. Courtesy FAO.

TC 293) has been created to supply the industry with standards for feed machinery used to produce formulated feed in feed processing mills. In the absence of harmonized International Standards, each feed machinery manufacturer produces feed machines to its own specifications, while each individual feed producer procures machinery to suit its needs. Inconsistent requirements have notably hindered international trading of such machinery and there is urgent demand for International Standards to coordinate business across borders. According to Lujia Han, Chair of the new ISO/TC 293, there are a large number of terms defining the feed processing technology. Due to disagreement among countries over terminology issues as well as the application of graphical symbols for feed machinery and feed processing technology, barriers to international trade and technological communication on feed machinery have emerged. Feed mills all over the world have suffered innumerable accidents due to the lack of proper safety measures for feed machinery, including safety design, safety protection design, dust explosion prevention, electrical systems,

and the safety requirements involved in layout, installation and the manufacturing of equipment. Dust explosions in feed mills, for example, are a worldwide problem. In feed processing machinery, many factors can affect feed hygiene, the environment and operators’ well-being, so concerted solutions need to be found. The health of people and animals, and the security of people and property, are the top priority of standardization, underpinned by a robust terminology base. To address these issues, three groups have been created within ISO/TC 293 to work specifically on terminology, safety and hygiene.

Suzi Dominy is the founding editor and publisher of She brings 25 years of experience in professional feed industry journalism and publishing. Before starting this company, she was co-publisher of the agri-food division of a major UK-based company, and editor of their major international feed magazine for 13 years.

The Long View

Evening shrimp feeding in Madagascar.

Shrimp Aquaculture Certification: The Way Forward Part 1 By Claude E. Boyd1, Aaron A. McNevin2

Shrimp aquaculture certification has grown rapidly during the past few years, and an increasing percentage of farmed shrimp sold in supermarkets and restaurants is certified.


he purpose of certification is to provide shrimp for consumers seeking foods produced in a responsible

manner. Certified farms must be in compliance with environmental, social, food safety, and animal welfare standards ideally developed through

a stakeholder consultation process. These farms are audited for compliance with the standards by an accredited auditor, and certification programs may include chain of custody or traceability aspects that should require separation of certified products from other products throughout the market chain. A logo and barcode provided on the certified product package allows its identification by purchasers. There are rather straightforward guidelines for what constitutes food product safety (WHO and FAO 2009; CCFH 1969) and fair labor treatment (ILO 2014). Thus, reduction of negative environmental impacts is the major focus of most shrimp certification programs. There are, however, no clear guidelines for how to prevent negative environmental impacts in shrimp aquaculture, resulting in a wide range of views on how the environment should be addressed with certification standards. This brings about a great degree of variability in certification standards, monitoring Âť 67

The Long View

to demonstrate compliance, and how different auditors assess compliance with environmental standards within a single program. Seafood buyers who import aquaculture products may choose to support purchasing programs or certifications, because there are consumers who seek foods produced by methods that are better than the normal production practices used in producing countries. In essence, purchasing and certification efforts are private businesses that supply the demand for a product. There is an opinion that differentiation of shrimp products by such programs marginalizes small-scale producers. It has been argued that many of the major aquaculture producing countries have seen a dramatic progression towards meaningful regulations and effective enforcement so that certification is no longer necessary (Bush et al. 2013). Nevertheless, data from the World Bank and the Environmental Performance Index do not support these assertions (Fig. 1 and 2). Environmental regulations in most major shrimp-producing countries are not rigorous, are poorly enforced, or both. Thus, it should be recognized that certifications and some third-party audited purchasing policy

programs of individual shrimp buyers are important, because they are the only means currently available for attempting to verify that shrimp aquaculture facilities are producing shrimp by acceptable production and environmental management practices. It seems also that assurances of certification focusing on the major environmental impacts in an effective relatively uniform manner would be equally important. Certification standards and other requirements were developed in many cases through stakeholder committees, some following the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling (ISEAL) Alliance code of conduct for standard setting. Such an effort had never been attempted, and all negative environmental impacts of shrimp aquaculture that were known to or perceived by the stakeholders were addressed with requirements or standards. As a result, certification programs are broad, and in general, minor impacts and major impacts are treated with equal priority. Of course, the more complex a program, the more difficult and expensive it is to implement and audit effectively. Most certification programs claim there are inherent mechanisms for con-

Figure 1 Comparison of government effectiveness ranks from 1996 and 2013 for the top ten aquaculture producing countries. The government effectiveness rank is a percentile rank among all countries with a higher ranking corresponding to greater effectiveness of national government. Source: Worldwide Governance Indicators (

Goverment effectiveness rank


1996 2013

80 60 40 20

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South Korea



Viet Nam





tinuous improvement of standards, but it should be remembered that it is not in the best financial interest of a certification business to reduce the number of certified facilities which would likely be the result of increasing the rigor of standards. Regardless, for certification programs to be effective and maintain relevancy, standards must be adjusted based on new findings and experiences. Moreover, it is unlikely that, in their current forms, the “one size fits all” adage applies to effective standards for shrimp farms. The World Wildlife Fund suggested seven indicators – land use, water use, feed conversion ratio (FCR), survival, wild fish inclusion in feeds, dissolved oxygen in receiving waters and energy use – as a means of assessing resource use and negative environmental impacts of aquaculture production facilities. The logic for using these variables was provided by Boyd et al. (2015). It is based on the assumption that reducing resource use – other than for plant ingredients for feed and possibly for energy – will result in a reduction in negative environmental impacts ultimately affecting biodiversity. Preliminary results from a survey of shrimp farms in Vietnam and Thailand reveal that these indicators can provide an objective accounting of resource use and negative environmental impacts – including acquisition of the information necessary for estimating embodied burdens. We believe that it would be prudent for shrimp certification programs to begin to re-assess their requirements and standards for certification. By doing so, it may be possible to focus better upon the major impacts and to assure that the standards can be assessed reliably with respect to metrics and interpreted in a meaningful manner. This effort could possibly prioritize standards, streamline programs, make them more understandable to shrimp producers, and lead to a less subjective, simpler, quicker, and

Land Use The major land use issue in shrimp aquaculture is mangrove conversion. Mangroves occur in the intertidal zone in which habitat conversion may result from aquaculture, agriculture, or several other reasons (Massaut 1999). Most certification programs forbid farms on sites that were cleared of mangroves during or after 1999 – the year of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. The intent of a mangrove standard in certification obviously was to lessen the future conversion of mangroves to shrimp farms. The demand for farmed shrimp apparently will increase in the future requiring intensification or expansion of the current production area (or both). An increase in certification to include the majority of shrimp production – an uncertain assumption at best – could result in mangrove conservation. But, unless governments enforce regulation preventing mangrove conversion, certification can only assure that certified farms are not a party to mangrove conversion. Mangrove areas have many features unfavorable for shrimp farms (Massaut 1999; Sonnenholzner and Boyd 2000). The attraction of these

Figure 2 Comparison of Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks from 1996 and 2013 for the top ten aquaculture producing countries. EPI ranks are for a total of 178 countries. A higher EPI score corresponds with better performance addressing high-priority environmental issues. Source: Hsu et al. 2014 ( 200

2002 2014


EPI rank

120 80 40

areas for farm sites apparently is the low cost of such land in many countries and the ability for producers to take advantage of tidal forces to fill ponds and exchange water. An environmental case for excluding shrimp farming (and agriculture) from the intertidal zone can be made based on the ecological value of this zone and the many land and water management challenges inherent to its use.




South Korea



Viet Nam



0 China

cheaper auditing process. In summary, more emphasis seems to be warranted for the major issues, and less on the prescriptive and “accounting” aspects of certification. We have been involved in the environmental issues related to shrimp farming and in the development of certification programs and standards since the effort began nearly 20 years ago. Based on previous experience and information acquired during the aforementioned survey, we will provide some opinions on early efforts that might be made to enhance the environmental benefits of certification and make certification more feasible for adoption.

Many farms, and especially the larger ones, are situated in the fringe between the upper limit of the tidal zone and the upper limit of intrusion of brackishwater into coastal waterways. Development of new shrimp farms in this zone seems more preferable – in spite of the need to pump water into farms – than to allow siting them in the intertidal zone irrespective of the “grandfather clause”

Figure 3. Satellite image of a shrimp farming region in Southern Vietnam. Source: Google Earth.

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The Long View

in most certification standards permitting certified farms in mangrove area cleared before 1999. Of course, intensification also would allow production to increase without the need for a great amount of new farm construction. Some certification programs require assessments of the former biodiversity of the landscape into which shrimp farms are superimposed and to develop plans favorable for biodiversity such as corridors for animal movement across farms. The ecological quality and biodiversity of native habitat declines considerably when it is converted to agriculture (Reidsma et al. 2006), and the same happens in aquaculture (Boyd and McNevin 2015a). The effect of construction of a new farm in natural habitat is greatly diminished biodiversity within the farm area. Certified shrimp farms usually are located in areas with noncertified shrimp farms or with agriculture and other activities (Fig. 3). Requiring complex assessments in these areas is not likely to improve their biodiversity, and there is little left to protect compared to native habitat. For example, the terrestrial biodiversity for the site depicted in Fig. 3 has already been greatly compromised – a biodiversity assessment of one or more farms in the area that are seeking certification is meaningless. Also to try to develop a corridor for animal movement would be impossible through the efforts of certification alone. The high cost of biodiversity assessments – farms have spent $5,000 to $85,000 for these documents – is likely a major deterrent to producers seeking certification. Thus, biodiversity assessment probably should be required only for specific farms where it conceivably could result in environmental benefit and be cost effective. For example, biodiversity assessments may be useful in the case of large farms located in relatively undisturbed areas without many neighboring farms. 70 »

Figure 4. Satellite image of a shrimp farming region in Ecuador. Source: Google Earth.

The upshot is that there are limits on the beneficial land use changes (and terrestrial biodiversity improvement) that may be expected from certification. The only improvements in land use that can be expected are limited to the farm area itself, and this benefit results mainly from refusing certification to farmers who contributed to mangrove conversion from 1999 onward. But, certification will not prevent a non-certifiable shrimp farm from operating or being constructed in post 1999 mangrove areas. Only governments can impose uniform land use restrictions on farms not seeking certification or upon other activities within the man-

grove area and the intertidal zone as a whole. New concepts referred to as zonal management (URL) and landscape management (Chaplin-Kramer et al. 2015) have been proposed for use in shrimp certification. These schemes appear to be a revision of the old idea of “cluster farm” certification (Boyd 2003). Implementation of these concepts depends on certification of a contiguous block of farms, and the overall management of the zones or landscape units requires collaboration with governmental agencies. It is prudent to remember that certification originated primarily because the majority of stakeholders believed that

There appears to be no way of avoiding a decline in terrestrial biodiversity when shrimp farms are constructed in natural or relatively undisturbed areas. The decline will be much less when farms are located on former agricultural land, because most of the impact of shrimp farms on terrestrial biodiversity results from the initial clearing of the land.

Effluent water from Thai Shrimp Farm.

government agencies were not effective in developing and enforcing regulations. Moreover, if these new concepts go forth, they certainly would benefit from more concise certification guidelines and standards. Shrimp farms outside the intertidal zone also influence the environment. For example, if placed into natural habitat, farms will greatly diminish terrestrial biodiversity – as will nearly any kind of agriculture (Reidsma et al. 2006). Again, it may be prudent to favor intensification of production over expansion of production area to meet the increasing demand for shrimp.

Seepage from ponds and discharge of saline water from ponds can cause salinization of both surface and groundwater. The standards addressing salinization should assume more importance at farms outside the intertidal zone – especially those in areas with highly permeable soils – than those within this zone. There is growing interest in inland culture of marine shrimp in low salinity water common in many countries (Roy et al. 2010). Certification standards should be assessed and modified as necessary for this application.

Water Use Shrimp are cultured primarily in water that is too saline for domestic or agricultural use. Nevertheless, water use is important because it is necessary for estimating energy use for pumping, and water intake volume often provides a reasonable estimate of effluent discharge from a farm (Boyd et al. 2015). Some farms may introduce freshwater from wells into ponds to dilute salinity during the dry season. This practice is not allowed in some certification programs. However, there is a growing tendency to operate closed systems or semi-closed systems from which water is discharged only during harvest. Such systems obviously are environmentally desirable, and in locations where surface freshwater is unavailable, an exception for using freshwater from wells to dilute salinity in closed or semi-closed systems is reasonable other than where groundwater resources are limited.

1 School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences. Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, 36849 USA. 2

Mangrove cleared shrimp ponds in Indonesia.

Director of Aquaculture World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D.C. 20037 USA

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Aquaculture Engineering

Carbonate Chemistry Games for Aquaculture: The Basics

Almost four decades ago, I got an interesting introduction to carbon dioxide in aquaculture from a presentation by Dr. John Colt who explained in great detail how, “if you put fish in a closed bag with pure By Dallas Weaver, Ph.D., P.E. Scientific Hatcheries


hat happens is that the fish excrete both ammonia and CO2 as waste products of metabolism, and the ammonia increases the pH in the bag while the CO2 decreases the pH. There is a lot more CO2 produced, on a molar basis, than ammonia, and the pH drops fast enough to keep shifting the unionized ammonia (the toxic version) to lower concentration and toxicity. Meanwhile, the CO2 partial pressure keeps increasing over time to the point of becoming toxic. This is why when we ship fish and other aquaculture organisms in sealed bags, the bags arrive at their destinations with low pH water, even 72 »

oxygen, the fish will not die of ammonia toxicity, but from CO2 toxicity”.

when they started with very high pH water, like seawater at pH of 8.1. If you just open up that low pH bag and add an air stone, the CO2 will leave the water and the pH will go up and the un-ionized ammonia will kill the fish. If you just take the fish out of the water in the bag and put it into high/normal pH water, you will pH shock and possibly kill the fish. However, if you replace the low pH and high ammonia shipping water with low pH but ammonia free water then slowly introduce the receiving water to increase the pH, everything will be fine. These phenomena are all parts of the “Carbonate Chemistry Game”. Understanding carbonate chemistry and how it interacts with alkalinity, carbonate alkalinity, pH, calcite and aragonite (shell building CaCO3 components), organic acids and the kinetics of this chemistry is critical to successful aquaculture. Most of this chemistry is very well known and well described in Books like “Aquatic Chemistry” by Stumm and Morgan. Detailed knowledge about the behavior of CO2 in liquids goes back about a century, as the oil industry dealt with natural gas and other gases containing CO2 that needed removal. If you start with pure CO2 gas and add it to water, some of the gas dissolves as a gas in the liquid, much as oxygen and nitrogen dissolve in water. If you have ever used a Soda Stream to make sparkling water, you are just dissolving CO2 into the water. However, this CO2 (g) dissolved in the water then reacts with H2O forming H2CO3 (carbonic acid). This chemical hydration is kinetically slow and takes about 15 seconds to occur in pure water. The carbonic acid then decomposes, according to the pH, into bicarbonate and carbonate forms. Each one of these steps has a ther-

modynamic constant that will allow calculation of the ratios of the ions involved. When the pH related to the negative log[H+] increases, it will cause equation 1 to shift to the right as the pH increases, with the amount of carbonate increasing relative to the amount of free CO2 (g).

1) CO2 (g) ⇔ CO2 (aq) + H2O ⇔ H2CO3 ⇔ H+ + HCO3- ⇔ 2H+ + CO32-

From a health standpoint, the total of all these forms of inorganic carbon is reasonably irrelevant, and only the free CO2 dissolved in the water counts. This is related to the CO2 partial pressure (ppmv) that would exist in air in equilibrium with the water. Most discussions of CO2 in water specify a maximum of

about 20 mg/l as free CO2, which translates to about 1.5% CO2 in the air. At this level in air, humans are seeing measurable impacts such as drowsiness and so are fish. As mentioned above, the kinetics of hydration and dehydration between dissolved CO2 (aq) and water to form H2CO3 is slow. All the other reactions between carbonic acid to bicarbonate to carbonate are almost instantaneous. As CO2 is a major chemical of life as both a waste product and a nutrient source for carbon fixation like photosynthesis, this potential slow step in mass transport is critical. Nature has handled this problem by making enzymes such a carbonic anhydrases to speed up this reaction. Because CO2 is somewhat soluble in the lipids that make up cell walls, while bicarbonate is insoluble in lipids, nature can take CO2 in the form of bicarbonate on one side of a membrane, convert it to free CO2,

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Aquaculture Engineering

diffuse it across the cell wall and convert it back into bicarbonate. It is the slowness of this reaction that prevents a soda or beer with very high levels of total inorganic carbon from literally exploding in our faces when opened, while the carbonic anhydrases in our mouths allow the CO2 to rapidly come out of solution and provide the mouth the feeling of bubbles. The lack of carbonic anhydrases in clean water to speed up the equilibrium of this hydration reaction is what dramatically decreases the ability to either add or remove CO2 from aquaculture water at high rates and low cost. The only reason we can get CO2 out of our lungs fast enough to not die from CO2 toxicity is the carbonic anhydrases in our lungs. The slowness of this reaction impacts everything from the ability of the oceans to adsorb CO2 from the atmosphere to the ability to easily strip CO2 from water in a packed column.

The carbonic acid then decomposes, according to the pH, into bicarbonate and carbonate forms. Each one of these steps has a thermodynamic constant that will allow calculation of the ratios of the ions involved.

74 Âť

An example of this kinetic issue is seen in a recycle system using a fluidized bed followed by a packed column for re-aeration. In the fluidized bed, we convert organic carbon waste into CO2 and water, while using oxygen. In the packed column we add back the oxygen and remove some of the CO2. However, since it only takes a second or so for the water to go through the column, only the dissolved free CO2 can be stripped from the water and all the carbonic acid, bicarbonate and carbonate remains the same. This is easily demonstrated by putting a pH meter in the water directly coming from the bottom of the column and measuring the pH and you will find the pH is the same as at the top of the column. However, with the removal of CO2 the pH should increase. If you sample that same water collected in a cup after about 15 seconds the pH will increase indicating the sample came back to equilibrium as the CO2 (aq) came to equilibrium with the carbonates and carbonic acid in the water. If this equilibrium were fast, a short column could bring the water to equilibrium with the air flowing through the column in one pass in less than a second as can be done with oxygen and other gases without this slow kinetic step such as SO2. If we bring water into equilibrium with outside air, which has 400 ppmv of CO2 partial pressure (put-

ting an air stone into a sample of the water), we now have a defined CO2 partial pressure. Determining the pH at this defined equilibrium point can tell you a lot about your water and water chemistry. This pH value is then related to the Carbonate Alkalinity and the TIC of your water. This Alkalinity subject will be covered in the next column where we will go into the details of how the relationships between Alkalinity, Carbonate Alkalinity, CO2 and pH are related, such that when two of these values are known, the third is determined.

Dallas Weaver, PhD, started designing and building closed aquaculture systems in 1973 and worked for several engineering/consulting companies in the fields of air pollution, liquid wastes, and solid wastes until 1980. Today, he’s the Owner/President of Scientific Hatcheries. e-mail:

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Aquaculture Magazine December 2015 / January 2016 Volume 41 Number 6  

AquAdvantage® Salmon: A Case Study in the Development and Approval of Transgenic Aquatic Organisms.

Aquaculture Magazine December 2015 / January 2016 Volume 41 Number 6  

AquAdvantage® Salmon: A Case Study in the Development and Approval of Transgenic Aquatic Organisms.