Get to Know Shrimp Farming: The Aquaculture Industry’s Best-Kept Secret

Shrimp farming might not be the most well-known aspect of the aquaculture industry, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the most important. For those of you unfamiliar with shrimp farming, here’s how it works: producers build an enclosure on the water where they raise juvenile shrimp (typically Penaeus vannamei or Litopenaeus vannamei). After these shrimp are fully grown and their meat has reached market size, the producers harvest them and sell them to distributors and grocery stores across the world.


Getting Started

Are you interested in raising your own shrimp, but aren’t sure where to start? It can be overwhelming to keep track of all of your costs and numbers as you get started. To make things easier, here are some basic principles of aquaculture that will help you learn how shrimp farming works. Be sure to check out our tips below for more information on how shrimps swim and what they eat! Shrimp Nutrition & Feeding Habits: When you’re raising any type of animal or plant, it’s important to understand their nutritional needs and eating habits. If you don’t provide your animals with a balanced diet, they won’t grow properly or produce healthy offspring.


Why Is Shrimp So Popular?

Shrimp are so popular and ubiquitous, in part, because they’re on menus from Portland to Prague. But as one of shrimp farming’s biggest boosters, U.S. farm-raised shrimp advocate Bryan Graham will tell you that there’s a lot more going on with these crustaceans than just showing up en masse at your favorite restaurant or grocery store. In fact, farm-raised shrimp is an industry on par with many other protein sources—and it offers distinct advantages over its competitors. Here are some of them: 1) It’s sustainable. 2) It’s affordable. 3) It tastes great! 4) And it supports thousands of jobs around the world (including here in America). Check out our infographic below for more info about how shrimp farming works and why we should all be eating more of it!


Who Benefits From Global Shrimp Demand?

In order to understand who benefits from global shrimp demand, it’s important to know who produces shrimp and in what ways. The industry is built around three main ways of producing shrimp. First, there are wild-caught shrimp that are caught in oceans all over the world. Second, there are farmed shrimp that are raised on farms by aquaculturists. Finally, there are farmed shrimp that are raised on farms but fed a diet of wild-caught shrimp (called trash fish). This last category is where you find most of your cheap farm-raised shrimp—and where you find most of your environmental problems with farming as well. There’s also an emerging fourth way of producing shrimp that doesn’t involve either catching or raising anything. Instead, it involves genetically modifying existing species so they produce more meat than they normally would. If successful, these super shrimps could be a huge boon for farmers around the world—but they could also introduce some potentially dangerous new issues into an already complicated industry.


What Kinds Of Wild And Farmed Shrimp Are There?

When it comes to shrimp, there are four main types that fall into two categories: wild and farmed. Wild shrimp hail from nature and are caught in their natural habitat. Farmed shrimp originate in a controlled environment—which can be either indoors or outdoors—and come from farms. Not only is farmed shrimp less expensive than its wild counterpart, but it’s also healthier. So, what kinds of wild and farmed shrimp are there? Here’s a quick breakdown:

Contrary to popular belief, most of these terms have nothing to do with where they were raised or how they were raised. Here’s a breakdown of what each one means:

If you’re looking for sustainably farmed shrimp that doesn’t come from China, look for American shrimp that has been certified by an independent third party like MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) or ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council). This certification ensures that your shrimp was produced in a sustainable and ethical manner.


How Is Cultured (Farmed) Shrimp Different From Wild Caught?

Most consumers are aware that shrimp are often caught in ways that harm sea life. However, many people aren’t aware of how cultured (farm raised) shrimp is different from wild caught. For one thing, cultured or farmed shrimp takes less energy to produce than wild caught shrimp. Cultured or farmed shrimp is almost always harvested without harming sea turtles and other marine animals. Also, there is no bycatch with cultured or farmed shrimp; when you buy a pound of wild caught shrimp, you may be getting as much as two pounds of bycatch. Finally, because it doesn’t use up ocean resources and doesn’t involve trapping and killing sea creatures, cultured or farmed shrimp production can be expanded to meet global demand while leaving our oceans intact for future generations.


What Does The Future Hold For Cultured (Farmed) Shrimp?

There’s been a lot of talk recently about aquaculture—the practice of farming fish and other aquatic organisms, like shrimp. But we rarely hear much about cultured (farmed) shrimp in North America. for what reason? Likely because many don’t know that it even exists! In fact, cultured shrimp is one of largest seafood industries in South America, with countries like Brazil and Ecuador producing millions of pounds per year…[continue reading]

To fully grasp just how large an industry cultured shrimp has become, consider that leading research firm Markets & Markets forecasts global demand for cultivated (farm-raised) shrimp will grow to over 5 million metric tons by 2022. That’s nearly double current levels! And these figures include consumption by Japan alone.


Why Are Consumers Choosing Cultured (Farmed) Over Wild Caught?

Shrimp aquaculture is still relatively new, but it’s on a rapid ascent. Why? There are a number of reasons. As food safety concerns continue to grow, many consumers are choosing farmed shrimp over wild caught because it’s perceived as being more controlled and therefore safer. Some people claim that farmed shrimp has better flavor and texture than wild caught too! Of course, there’s still plenty of debate about which kind is best.


What Should We Do Now To Support Sustainable Fishing Practices And Prevent Extinction?

While overfishing is certainly a threat, habitat destruction, pollution and disease also pose problems for both wild and farmed shrimp populations. Luckily, there are plenty of actions we can take as consumers to improve our seafood choices and support sustainable practices. Here’s what you should do now to help save these tasty crustaceans.

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