Oceanic Institute Dedicates Biosecure Marine Shrimp Breeding Facility

Research will advance the shrimp aquaculture industry in Hawai‘i and across the nation.
January 5, 2003

Waimanalo, Hawai‘i, - On January 9, 2003, the Oceanic Institute will dedicate the Nucleus Breeding Center for Marine Shrimp, a biosecure and environmentally responsible research facility. The unique, $2 million building occupies over 8,900 square feet at the Institute’s Makapu‘u Point site on O‘ahu. The facility will play an important role for the Institute in the development of Hawai‘i’s shrimp exporting industry and the nation’s shrimp farming industry.

Working in collaboration with the U.S. Marine Shrimp Farming Consortium, the Oceanic Institute developed and continues to produce selectively bred, Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) Pacific white shrimp to promote the expansion of a sustainable shrimp aquaculture industry in the U.S. The SPF shrimp bred at the Institute are certified to be free from nine different, principal viruses that are harmful to shrimp.

The Oceanic Institute launched the shrimp breeding industry in Hawai‘i through the provision of SPF and disease-resistant Pacific white shrimp to broodstock producers who supply the majority of the shrimp seed to farmers across the nation. Consequently, now with eight marine shrimp broodstock producers in Hawai‘i, the state has become a seed-producing center.

“This facility heralds a new era in marine shrimp research and serves as a model for future biosecure shrimp production facilities,” said Dr. Thomas E. Farewell, President and CEO of the Oceanic Institute. “The pathogen-exclusion measures applied at the facility protect the research animals from disease-causing agents. The facility’s recirculating seawater design demonstrates environmental protection measures. There are no other facilities like it in the world.”

Shrimp producers face a number of challenges in the production of shrimp. Current culture technologies raise concerns over disease transmission that can decimate an entire farm, environmental pollution from the farm’s effluent, and high production costs.

“We are conducting research to support the commercialization of domestic marine shrimp aquaculture. Our research programs focus on the development of shrimp that are improved through family selection,” explained Dr. Shaun M. Moss, Director of Shrimp Technology for the Oceanic Institute. “Using artificial insemination, we breed families of shrimp for specific traits such as resistance to disease, rapid growth, and tolerance to low-salinity environments.”

“Additionally we have developed a biosecure production system that is physically isolated from the natural coastal environment. Incoming seawater is disinfected and recirculated through filters,” continued Dr. Moss. “The amount of seawater used is drastically reduced and the environment is protected from the possible effects of system effluent.”

The Nucleus Breeding Center for Marine Shrimp is a biosecure research facility where scientists can produce and maintain 50 distinct families of disease-free shrimp in an enclosed environment. The breeding center accommodates the full life cycle of the shrimp: maturation of broodstock, artificial insemination, rearing of larvae, and growout. The facility is also equipped for laboratory activities, shrimp tagging operations, live feed production, dry feed storage, shipping, and administration.

“There is a compelling need for research and development of marine shrimp aquaculture in the United states,” stated Dr. Anthony C. Ostrowski, Director of the U.S. Marine Shrimp Farming Consortium. “Shrimp is now the most consumed seafood product in the U.S., surpassing canned tuna fish. It is also the single most imported seafood, with 2001 imports valued at $3.8 billion and accounting for 37% of the total seafood imports in 2001.”

“Americans consume 3.4 pounds of shrimp per person per year, nearly a total of 1 billion pounds of shrimp,” said Dr. Ostrowski. “But, despite the fact that shrimp consumption in the U.S. has reached record levels, domestic production of cultured shrimp lags significantly behind production in Asia and Latin America.”

As a member of the U.S. Marine Shrimp Farming Consortium, the Oceanic Institute works with fellow members Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Tufts University, Waddell Mariculture Center, Texas Agriculture Experiment Station, and University of Arizona to identify and solve problems that constrain the sustainability and expansion of the U.S. marine shrimp farming industry.

The Nucleus Breeding Center for Marine Shrimp was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) and the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Oceanic Institute, located at Makapu‘u Point on O‘ahu, was founded in 1960. The Institute is a private, not-for-profit, full-spectrum, applied research organization dedicated to the development and transfer of technology and applications in aquaculture, environmental science, and marine biotechnology.