Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Oceanic Institute already has developed ways to
grow shrimp per square meter of pond area at
more than 10 times the global average.

Isle shrimp growers
to share fed grant

Oceanic Institute and Kahuku
Shrimp Co. are among 4 recipients
in the $8.2 million venture

By Russ Lynch

A multimillion-dollar federal grant will help Hawaii shrimp growers improve the aquaculture process to the point where production is about double its already high level, the recipients say.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded $8.2 million toward a five-year program aimed at finding the best way to feed and grow shrimp. The money is going to a joint venture of Oceanic Institute, the nonprofit research facility next to Sea Life Park at Makapuu; a California biotechnology firm called PIC USA Inc. (formerly Pig Improvement Co.); a Pennsylvania animal-feed business called Zeigler Bros. Inc.; and Kahuku Shrimp Co., a local shrimp farmer.

The results are potentially enormous. Oceanic Institute already has developed ways to grow 11.4 pounds of shrimp per square meter of pond area, more than 10 times the international average in commercial shrimp farming of about 1.1 pounds per square meter. If the government-funded research works out as expected, production could get as high as 22 pounds per square meter, said Oceanic Institute spokeswoman Janet Crawford.

Of the two local recipients, Oceanic Institute will get the bulk of the money, $5.3 million over five years. The shrimp farm in Kahuku will get $625,000 over the same time span, Crawford said. The difference is because Oceanic is a nonprofit institution and will do the work for the future benefit of commercial growers.

"At the end of five years, Oceanic Institute is done," Crawford said. Then, the immediate commercial beneficiary will be Kahuku Shrimp, because it will be the first in the world to know what Oceanic's discoveries were and will already have in place the systems for the rapid growth of shrimp, she said.

The key is to get the right mix of microorganisms in the water and added feed, to make shrimp growth fast and efficient. Microorganisms eat the waste excreted by the shrimp and the shrimp in turn eat the microorganisms.

The key, Crawford said, is to get exactly the right mix of microorganisms and special feeds added by humans, and that is what the research is for, she said.

E-mail to Business Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin