Sygen International plc., a world leader in applying quantitative genetics and biotechnology to animal breeding, has announced that its aquaculture business, SyAqua, has signed leases for two shrimp hatcheries in Thailand and plans to build a shrimp Genetic Nucleus facility there later this year. The leased hatcheries provide SyAqua with access to existing infrastructures and shrimp farmers/customers in the world’s largest shrimp producing region.
Asia is an important market for SyAqua. It accounts for 80% of the world’s shrimp production market, with Thailand alone representing 25%-30% of the global market, whereas Mexico, where SyAqua has 20%-25% market share and is expected to contribute between £0.5-£1.0 million to Group profits in the financial year ended June 2003, represents just 2%-3% of the global shrimp production market.
With this expansion into Thailand, SyAqua now operates four hatcheries globally – two leased hatcheries in Thailand and two owned hatcheries in Mexico. SyAqua utilises these hatcheries to breed shrimp (post-larva) that will be sold to shrimp farmers. As in Mexico, the main focus for the Thailand hatcheries will be reproductive technology to enhance performance including such traits as growth rate, feed conversion, survival, disease resistance, as well as meat quality.
Construction of the environmentally enclosed Genetic Nucleus facility in Thailand is expected to be completed during the first half of the 2004 financial year. This will bring the total number of shrimp Genetic Nucleus facilities that SyAqua operates to three – the other two being in Hawaii and Mexico.
The Hawaiian nucleus utilises the services of Oceanic Institute under a three-year contract. The Mexico nucleus is located near Mazatlan at the same site as an existing hatchery. The Oceanic Institute is, along with Sygen’s subsidiary PIC USA, one of the research partners within the consortium that received an US$8.2 million shrimp research grant from the US Department of Commerce’s ATP programme in November 2001. SyAqua utilises Genetic Nucleus facilities to breed its pure line shrimp, which, through selection based on a combination of quantitative genetics and biotechnology techniques, have proven to possess traits of interest to shrimp farmers. Shrimp from the Genetic Nucleus facilities are transferred to the hatcheries where they are mated to produce the resulting offspring that are subsequently sold to shrimp farmers/customers.
James Anderson, Managing Director of SyAqua, commented, “The Thai Government granted us a business permit in June to establish a shrimp breeding business in Thailand. This is a significant milestone, as it will allow us to leverage our research and development efforts globally and accelerate our genetic improvement plans in hatcheries in Thailand and Mexico. Expansion into the world’s largest shrimp producing country represents a major step towards SyAqua delivering both technical and market leadership in shrimp breeding worldwide.”