Our hatchery and grow-out operations are based on decades of experience and research of one the leading experts in shrimp hatching, Rod McNeil.
Roughly 2 males are used for each female in a large mating tank roughly 5 meters in diameter. The large tank size is required for the chase behavior exhibited between the males and females.
Once bred, the female is removed and placed in a separate, smaller tank to release her eggs, 10-12 hours after fertilization. Once a female is bred and the eggs released (20-28 hours after fertilization), the males and the females are removed to separate tanks to recover for another breeding. The recovery tanks for both males and females require full salinity saltwater at 82 F and about 1 cubic meter of water for every 10 animals. The recovery time varies from 2-6 weeks and is highly dependent on diet. Adult males and females require different diets during recovery to minimize recovery time.
Once released from the female, the eggs hatch in 24 hours and then pass thru four stages, referred to as nauplius, zoea, mysis and post larvae (pl’s). Each stage of shrimp larval rearing requires different live feeds such as algae, rotifers, artemia and copepods which have been found to be ideal. Thus, a hatchery is also a live feed production unit to allow survival of the shrimp.
At the mysis stage the larval shrimp begin to develop its pleopods, or swimmerettes. After these stages of larval development, the animals are fully developed as a shrimp. Once they reach about ½ inch in size, they can be transferred to the initial stages of the commercial operation in about 17-19 days. Here, in the first stage, which requires about 30 days, they will grow from 10mg to one gram.
It takes roughly 20 days in the hatchery before the small shrimps can be used in a commercial growing operation. In order to breed, the female shrimps are about 9 to 14 months old. These time lines shall provide an understanding that shrimp breeding and growing operations need to be thoroughly aligned to each other.
Building requirements for breeding are quite specific as the room for spawning must have extremely low lighting of a wavelength similar to moonlight spectra.
We consider shellfish production as our most solid and imediate profit center. There is a great demand in the US, which appeared to be insatiable and prices have been on the rise for years. However, we will be growing a sustainable/renewable salt water marine shrimp that is made available to local markets. The intent is to offer local, fresh, organic, GMO-free, heavy metal free, and reduced cholesterol/iodine content shrimp, which is also the highest protein seafood available.
According to the National Fisheries Institute, shrimp comsumption in the US was 4 lbs per capita in 2014, with a solid increasing tendency over the previous years (Undercurrent news, seafood business news: “US per capita shrimp consumption rises 11%” October 30, 2015). Most of the shrimp in the US is sold frozen (78%) and only about 22% is sold fresh.
Although traditional shrimp farming has been carried out in Asia for centuries, large-scale commercial shrimp farming began in the 1970s, and production grew steeply. Shrimp consumption in the United States was 1.5 billion tons last year. Of that amount we imported approx. 90% of our consumption. Of that amount imported, 75% was farmed. Of the 10% consumption that is domestically produced 45% is wild caught, while 55% is farmed. Of the 55% farmed, less than 2% is indoor raised.
With all the negative news about overseas farmed seafood we feel very strongly that a locally raised, sustainable alternative will be well received. Continued contamination issues as well as environmental impacts with outdoor foreign and domestic farms will highlight the need for locally sustainable sources. Also, the recent trend to rather buy US products instead of imported goods will support our business model – especially if US products are cleaner and healthier.
Pacific white shrimps are offered in different qualities, sizes and quantities. Our underlying sales concept has the goal to sell shrimp in the size range of 26/30 count per lb. That corresponds to a production cycle of roughly four months. This size gives fair revenues and is well accepted in the market.
The growth period for a harvestable shrimp (size 26/30-count) is 120 days. In the first 30 days of growth, the shrimp are very labor intensive because they must be fed every two hours, during which we intend to make use of automated feeders.
During this time, technicians are determining and adjusting the water quality, feed loads, and oxygen requirements. These, too, are capable of being automatically controlled and this is part of our efficiency plan. In each tank, monitoring and process control is installed.
We anticipate reaching a maximum annualized capacity of about 150,000 pounds in one year after start-up. This, of course, will vary depending on our customer’s needs. Variables such as average shrimp size, iodine content, and crop size may be readily controlled for each customer.
In cooperation with a developer of electronic equipment, we developed our monitoring system to control water quality, temperature, feed loads and oxygen in the grow-out tanks. The data is wirelessly transmitted to the network and can be accessed from any computer whereever positioned. This technology reduces labor costs and makes our operations more secure. It makes sure that the shrimp have an optimized environment, which keeps the shrimps happy and healthy.
Automatization will be one of our focus areas in order to constantly imporve the quality of our operations and our products.