Monday, December 27, 2004

Outlook up for
shrimp farms

An environmental organization's recommendation of U.S.-farmed shrimp as an "eco-friendly" menu choice could mean a boost for Hawaii's shrimp farmers.

The group Environmental Defense listed U.S.-farmed shrimp on its "Eco-Best" list of seafood it recommends as a good choice, not only because it is ecologically friendly, but also healthy to eat because it is low in contaminants.

Shrimp farming and other aquaculture are a growing business in Hawaii.

Sales last year were nearly $28 million, about 10 percent higher than the year before.

"This is exciting news for Hawaii's shrimp farmers," said Bruce Anderson, president of the Oceanic Institute at Makapuu, which has developed virus-free and disease-resistant shrimps. "This important endorsement of U.S.-farmed shrimp from a prestigious organization like Environmental Defense will help create even more demand for high-quality shrimp."

Shrimp grown in the United States represent less than 1 percent of the total shrimp consumed.

Environmental Defense says 90 percent of the shrimp sold in the United States is imported from Latin America and Southeast Asia, where environmental regulations are lax for wild fisheries and farms.

"It's important to get the word out that Hawaii's shrimp are among the best in the world, and this program should help us do that," said Paul Bienfang, a consultant to Ceatech USA Inc.'s 40-acre shrimp operation on Kauai.

The shrimp farming industry has had its share of problems. Earlier this year, Ceatech had to destroy 20 million shrimp after a virus got into its ponds.

The virus-free and disease-resistant shrimps developed at the Oceanic Institute are now the basis of more than 90 percent of the shrimp raised in the United States.

They allow shrimp farmers to produce healthy crops with less loss to disease, and also prevent the transmission of disease into wild animals in the local environment.

"Many U.S. shrimp farms have adopted management practices that greatly reduce their environmental impact," said Rebecca Goldburg, of Environmental Defense. "Farms avoid environmental pitfalls, such as frequent waste-water discharges, that have bedeviled shrimp farming aboard."

E-mail to City Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- http://archives.starbulletin.com