From modest beginnings more than forty years ago, shrimp harvested from commercial shrimp aquaculture operations now contributes more than 55% of the world's total supply of shrimp. The year 2007 marked the first time in history that the production of shrimp from farms exceeded the global capture of all marine shrimps.
The global shrimp farming industry was valued at an estimated USD 16.7 billion in 2010. The global shrimp farming industry’s value has been growing at a rate of just under USD 1 billion per year for the trailing 10 year period of 2000-2010. Clearly, shrimp farming is now big business.
In order of importance, the top five shrimp producing countries in the world as of 2010 are China, Thailand, Vietnam, Ecuador, and India. China is by far the most dominant farm-raised shrimp producer in the world. With production of 1.4 million tons per year in 2010, China is producing more than 2.5 times more farm-raised shrimp per year than its next closest competitor, Thailand. As a group, Asia dominates global shrimp farming production and is responsible for 86% of the global production figure of 3.8 million tons in 2010.
Ecuador has been the leading producer in the Western hemisphere since the technology was first developed in the 1950's by American shrimp farming pioneers. By 1977, the development of Ecuador’s shrimp farming industry was like a gold rush. While Ecuador’s shrimp farming industry has had many ups and downs, its overall success is undeniable. In 2010, the Ecuadorian shrimp farming industry was producing approximately 225,000 metric tons of farm-raised shrimp per year that was conservatively valued at USD 1.1 billion.
Traditional Semi-Intensive Shrimp Farming
In traditional semi-intensive shrimp farming, large earthen ponds are stocked with between 8-25 animals/square meter and little or no aeration is used. A prepared shrimp feed is generally provided but there is also a strong reliance on fertilization to stimulate phytoplankton blooms, which in turn generate zooplankton production in the ponds. Total shrimp growout period is typically 90-120 days and the harvested size of the shrimp is usually less than 20 grams. The shrimp yield is normally between 1,000-2,000 kg/hectare. Yields above 2,000 kg/hectare for semi-intensive farming are considered excellent. Farms in tropical climates typically have 2-2.5 crops per year.