2023 Shrimp Summit

George Chamberlain recaps the 2023 Shrimp Summit

Summit Topics: Overviews and Full Session Recordings

Improver Programs

How can improver programs better assist smallholder farms in grouping into clusters to improve production methods, efficiencies in purchasing, sale of product, product quality, fair pricing, and access to premium markets, including organic markets for unfed systems?

Globally, roughly 80% of farmed seafood comes from small-scale farmers. Due to the multiple challenges associated with certifying millions of small-scale farms, traditional certification has been unreachable for the vast majority of them. The challenge is how to help these smallholder farmers group into clusters and move toward certification, ratings, or the organic label.
  1. Establish entry-level criteria for farms to enter an improver program.
  2. Assist smallholders in grouping into clusters and forming improver programs that link with processors and lead to certification, ratings, or the organic label.
  3. Establish a central database registry to enable buyers to validate that improver programs are credible.
  4. Develop a digital app to facilitate connection of farms into clusters. The app should also enable more efficient purchasing of inputs, training, collection of data, sale and quality of product, delivery of product to the processor, traceability, and payments to the farmers.
  5. A functional business model with supportive buyers, active local agents (processors), and an enabling regulatory framework is essential.
  6. Implement a hierarchical organization of farm clusters into zones to enable improved management at regional and national levels.

TCRS is actively working on developing entry-level criteria for farms (along with other NGOs). In addition, a technology solution for a farm registry recognized by the market is being explored, and TCRS is recruiting processors who want to participate with their buyers.

Choice Canning Company of India has committed to an improver program in collaboration with TCRS and the Global Seafood Alliance (GSA). Choice Canning envisions helping smallholder shrimp farmers in India initially, then expanding to other countries.

Video: George Chamberlain discusses actionable takeaways from Improver Programs session

Dr. George Chamberlain, President, The Center for Responsible Seafood

Amyne H. Ismail President and CEO, The Unima Group
Corey Peet Co-Managing Director, Asian Seafood Improvement Collab.
Kim Than Nguyen Vice Director, Kim Delta Vietnam
Cormac O’Sullivan Sr. Fellow for Global Aquaculture Science, Seafood Watch

Growout Intensification

A review of intensification strategies in Ecuador and Asia, limits of carrying capacity in different systems, advances in engineering design to improve energy efficiency of super intensive tank farms, and the use of wastewater treatment and reuse to manage cumulative impacts.

  1. Growout intensification is progressing in Asia and the Americas. Intensification generally increases efficiency of land, water, and energy use. However, each production system has inherent carrying capacity limits due to such factors as inadequate predator control in natural tidal impoundments, insufficient feed in extensive systems, limited dissolved oxygen in semi-intensive systems, and sediment and water quality deterioration in intensive systems. Exceeding carrying capacity leads to shrimp stress, disease, and mortality. Thus, the challenge is how to increase carrying capacity in step with increases in production intensity. 
  2. Greenhouse gas emissions from farm operations are relatively high in shrimp farming as compared to other aquaculture species due to intensification of legacy ponds which are not designed to optimize efficiency of pumping and aeration.
  1. The need to respect carrying capacity applies not only at the farm level, but also at a zone management level. Water treatment and re-use is crucial for the productivity of zones.
  2. Ecuador’s tremendous advances with autofeeders, aeration, and recirculation were highlighted as pathways for safely increasing semi-intensive production, but these large ponds are inherently limited in their ability to further intensify due to inadequate capacity for solids removal and water re-use.
  3. Greenhouse gas emissions of intensive tank systems can be reduced through the application of computational fluid dynamics modelling to optimize engineering designs (Brian Vinci’s presentation).
  4. There is a great opportunity to dramatically reduce water use as demonstrated by a new generation of RAS farms and hatcheries.

TCRS, The Nature Conservancy, and the Freshwater Institute are collaborating on research that applies computational fluid dynamics to optimizing intensive tank design. By optimizing the tank design, efficient intensification coupled with a reduced environmental footprint can be achieved. Desktop CFD optimizations are now complete and practical trials are being planned to test the results under commercial conditions.

Robert Jones, Global Lead, The Nature Conservancy’s Aquaculture Program

Brian Vinci Director, Freshwater Institute

Eduardo Reyes Director de producción Grupo Almar, Grupo Almar Ecuador
Nguyễn Hoàng Liêm Executive Assistant to CEO, Chairman of OTANICS Technology Company, Minh Phu Seafood
Sarabpeet Singh General Manager, Devi Seafoods

Global Production and Markets

This session focused on production data from major producing countries, the forecast of expected production in 2023 and 2024, and demand from major markets including the US, EU, China, and Japan. It also included a review of overarching issues such as unified marketing, rising sustainability requirements, and the need for product quality standards.

  1. Since the beginning, shrimp farming has been hampered by diseases, which have kept global supply in check. As disease management has improved, oversupply, low prices, and flat or contracting production have occurred. The challenge is to increase consumer demand through marketing.
  2. Climate change is accelerating faster than predicted, and aggressive sustainability interventions are needed to limit negative effects. Other sustainability interventions are needed for environmental, social, food safety, animal welfare (e.g. eyestalk ablation and humane slaughter), traceability, and certification goals. The challenge is how to meet rising sustainability expectations, especially during a period of low shrimp prices.
  3. Product quality standards are poorly enforced for net weight (no overglazing), accurate sizes (no short sizing), and proper water retention (no oversoaking). This allows for unfair advantages to groups practicing these forms of economic fraud. The challenge is to establish and enforce strict international product quality standards.
  1. Production is exceeding demand and is projected to continue, as catastrophic disease losses are no longer correcting global production.
  2. A collective marketing program to expand existing markets and develop new markets is urgently needed (see Expanding the Market).
  3. Commitment throughout the value chain to proactively transform operations and achieve sustainability goals is essential.
  4. Rigorous product quality standards, which will enhance the quality and image of shrimp worldwide, are critical.
  5. Improved data collection is needed.

To stimulate development of a long-term global shrimp marketing campaign, a bold initiative was proposed at our Summit by Sandro Coglitore of Omarsa (Ecuador), Le Van Quang of Minh Phu (Vietnam), Tony Downs of Sysco (USA), Thanachote Boonmechote of Thai Union/Chicken of the Sea, and Chowdary Kunam of AZ Gems (USA) to quickly create a significant startup fund. This effort has led to a Global Shrimp Council that is developing a global shrimp marketing campaign.

Travis Larkin, President and CEO, Seafood Exchange

Sander Visch, Lead Analyst – Shrimp, Kontali
Richard Barry, Director of Programs, National Fisheries Institute

Robins McIntosh, Executive Vice President, Charoen Pokphand Group Co., Ltd.
Sandro Coglitore, General Manager, Omarsa S.A. / Panama Seafood Group

Shrimp Breeding

One of the key differentiators between Ecuador and Asia is breeding. Experts representing leading breeding programs in Ecuador and Asia discussed the advantages and disadvantages of each. The growing importance of genetic markers and genomic selection was also covered. The session also addressed inherent shortcomings in policies for sentinel testing and intellectual property protection.

  1. Sentinel testing, a process to improve disease tolerance in family breeding programs, is not possible in some countries due to prohibition on importation of juvenile shrimp.
  2. Unlike with terrestrial livestock and salmon, there is poor protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for shrimp broodstock. Consequently, it is common for one breeding program to acquire and use the broodstock developed by another company. This discourages investment in breeding.
  3. Genomic selection yields the fastest genetic gains, but it is expensive.
  1. The apparent divergence of programs in Ecuador and Asia is actually convergence as Ecuador moves toward SPF stocks with genomic selection and Asia intensifies the use of sentinel testing to improve disease tolerance.
  2. Family based SPF programs are strengthening their SPT approaches.
  3. New information about viral accommodation—the natural mechanism of viral immunity in shrimp — may lead to treatments that can rapidly enhance immunity.
  4. SPT approaches are also an opportunity to leverage natural immune processes.
  5. Biotech processes such as CRISPR for gene editing, have the potential to accelerate rates of genetic gain and enable production of monosex or sterile populations.
  6. A potential solution for intellectual property protection is the development of distinctive DNA fingerprints for each breeding program with associated legal protection.
  7. Elimination of eyestalk ablation is possible in the near term with vannamei and midterm with P. monodon.

On Oct. 20, 2023 Dr. Chamberlain participated in a Department of Fisheries meeting in Delhi, India. One of the key topics was sentinel testing of breeding families in production ponds to enable selection for enhanced disease tolerance. Dr. Chamberlain’s presentation on the topic generated positive responses, and communications with the DOF on developing regulations to allow for sentinel testing are ongoing.

Ravi Kumar Yellanki, Managing Director, Vaisakhi Bio-Marine Private Limited

Joao Rocha, Geneticist, Texcumar and AQuest
Robins McIntosh, Executive Vice President, Charoen Pokphand Group Co., Ltd.

Dr. John Buchanan, CEO, Center for Aquaculture Technologies

Shrimp Disease Management

A review of the principal and emerging shrimp diseases in Asia and the Americas, their detection and control methods, and recommendations on how to better rationalize importation of broodstock to reduce smuggling and disease transmission. Also, a review of the latest research on harnessing viral accommodation to confer tolerance to viral diseases.

  1. Despite advances in diagnostics, biosecurity, and breeding for disease tolerance, disease continues to be the single largest issue facing producers worldwide. The challenge is how to build capacity and improve policies regarding disease management.
  2. Poor understanding of disease prevention and control can lead to excessive use of antibiotics and other therapeutants.
  3. Limited understanding of pathogen detection focused mostly on known pathogens by PCR. Despite the importance of histopathology to detect new etiologies or syndromes, it’s use is declining.
  4. New knowledge about viral accommodation in shrimp may offer clues about how to improve the immunity of shrimp to current and future viruses. The challenge is how to control and accelerate this process to achieve targeted results.
  5. Trans-shipment of live shrimp is a major vector for introduction of disease. If policies are too lax, not updated with the full list of pathogens, or the sanitary situation of the exporting country is unknown, policies are ineffective. If policies are too burdensome, they encourage smuggling, which completely bypasses regulations.
  6. National regulations for importation of broodstock are highly variable. Some countries approve broodstock suppliers based on desk reviews, while others require on-site inspections by government officials. India requires holding and testing broodstock within government quarantine facilities. Policies are needed for importation of broodstock for hatchery production and for importation of juveniles for sentinel testing to improve disease tolerance.
  7. The presence of endogenous viral elements (EVE’s) may cause positive disease detections when shrimp are not infected. The challenge is to develop primers that are not affected by integrated viral DNA. IHHNV-EVE is a typical example of this phenomenon in monodon.
  1. Genetics is our strongest tool for disease management.
  2. Carrying capacity must be respected at both the farm management and zone management levels.
  3. Support is needed at all levels for disease management research, training, disease surveillance, and policy refinements. Better knowledge of the biology of major shrimp pathogens would lead to improved methods for management of those pathogens.
  4. It was agreed that World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) policies need to be updated to remove IHHNV and TSV from the list of notifiable pathogens and add EHP to the list.
  5. New knowledge about viral accommodation may offer clues about how to leverage the shrimp’s immune system to manage future disease outbreaks.
  6. Develop a uniform set of regulatory policies that provide rigorous health assurances without being overly burdensome.
  7. Establish standards for third party certification and auditing of SPF breeding facilities to improve assurances of biosecurity.
  8. New CRISPR-based diagnostics may provide sensitivity similar to PCR but with much reduced cost and no specialized equipment or training.

Actions pending.

Loc Tran, Director, Asian Pacific Aquaculture Chapter, World Aquaculture Soc.

Dr. Luis Fernando Aranguren, Marine Biologist, University of Arizona

Rajeev Jha, Aquaculture Technology Consultant
Chengli Wang, Director of Sales and Service, GeneReach
Eduardo Reyes, Director de producción Grupo Almar, Grupo Almar Ecuador
Kallaya Sritunyalucksana, Principle Researcher, BIOTEC/NSTDA
Le Van Khoa, Head of Technical Service, Grobest Vietnam – Grobest Group

Sustainable Feeds

How can we reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other impacts from feeds by evaluating ingredients from different origins, applying advances in manufacturing, and managing feed distribution in grow-out ponds? Also, a look at innovative ingredients.

  1. Feeds, and in particular feed ingredients, are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and other impacts, so efficiency of feed use is paramount.
  2. Eight commercial feed manufacturers from Asia and the Americas shared anonymous formulas with the GSA Technical Committee to calculate greenhouse gas emissions of a typical shrimp feed as a benchmark to begin reducing levels over time.
  1. Advancement will require quantifying impacts at every stage of the value chain. Agricultural farmers can greatly assist in this effort to reduce carbon emissions by modifying practices to sequester carbon and even turn feed ingredients into a negative carbon emitter.
  2. New tools are available to calculate these emissions from feeds, farming operations, processing, transportation, etc.
  3. Acoustic autofeeders and other advances can improve the efficiency of feed use.
  4. Rendered animal proteins are already key ingredients in cost-effective aquaculture feeds in many countries and are alternatives to fishmeal. EU regulations prohibit their use and need to be updated.
  5. Much work is needed to continue advancing novel feed ingredients to assure that their greenhouse gas emissions are also reduced.

On Oct. 27, 2023, Dr. Chamberlain participated in the 90th Convention of the North American Renderer’s Association in Naples, Florida, USA.  He presented the case for increasing use of Processed Animal Products (PAPs) in aquaculture feeds based on their moderate carbon intensity and favorable levels of other impacts such as biotic resource use and land use.  Despite the favorable characteristics of PAPs and regulatory approval for use in aquafeeds, they are discouraged in the EU by retail purchasing policies.  Education work is needed to help retailers understand that PAPs are an important tool in the circular economy and in reducing environmental impacts of aquaculture feeds. 

Pamudi, Aquaculture Technical Contractor, U.S. Soybean Export Council

Dr. Richard Newton, Lecturer in Resilient Food Systems, Institute of Aquaculture, University of Sterling

Tarik Eluri, Sustainability Manager, U.S. Soybean Export Council
Avery Siciliano, Senior Manager, Surety of Supply, Walmart
Michael Tlusty, Assoc. Professor of Sustainability and Food Solutions, University of Massachusetts at Boston
Dr. Ming-Dang Chen, Exec VP, Research & Dev. of Aquatic Feed, CP Foods
Dr. Sergio Nates, Executive Vice President, Houdek

A review of financing mechanisms for large, medium, and small companies including debt financing by banks, as well as credit programs by feed manufacturers and processors, with a growing role played by IT systems tracking real-time performance of farms.
Several large integrated salmon companies have recently been approved for large scale financing through Sustainable Financing Mechanisms. How do we get the needed investment for accelerating critical advancements and for transforming small to medium shrimp farms?
  1. There is a growing role played by IT systems tracking real-time performance of farms and providing data to lenders to improve transparency and confidence, de-risking the sector.
  2. Speakers pointed out that the plan to cluster small-scale farmers can help with investment programs, which have traditionally been challenging at the small-scale level.
  3. Develop a substantial fund to finance Aquaculture Improver Projects similar to the $100 million project recently developed for Fishery Improvement Projects.

Choice Canning announced a $100,000 investment at our Summit to start an improver program with GSA and TCRS assisting smallholder shrimp farmers in India. This is intended to be a seed investment to encourage others to build substantial financing programs.

Rahul Kulkarni, Managing Director, India, Lighthouse Finance

Philip Schull Sr., Consultant, USSEC; USDA Minister Counselor (ret.); President and Founder, The Philip Shull Group

JY Chow, Managing Director Asia, Creadev
Utham Gowda, Founder & Group CEO, Captain Fresh
Maria Velkova, Investment Manager, AquaSpark
Supriya Srinivasan, Co-founder and Partner, Hatch Blue Revolution Fund
Brian Gordon, Senior VP, International Trade Finance, Commerce Bank
Loc Phan, Chairman and CEO, Vietnam Food (VNF)

Expanding the Market

Industry leaders throughout the value chain share a common interest: expanding the market to assure sustainable growth for our industry. Let’s imagine how the future of our industry would look if we were capable of exploring new market segments, envisioning engaging narratives to promote shrimp consumption, and developing global collective marketing initiatives that can trigger new and exciting paths for our industry as we venture into the future.

Throughout the short history of shrimp farming, the sector has focused on increasing supply, which has been held in check by periodic disease outbreaks. As disease management has improved and new production technologies have started to thrive, the industry has stumbled upon periods where supply has outpaced demand. As a result, the global shrimp sector has gone through stages of oversupply, prices below breakeven levels, and contraction of the sector in some regions. All of this adds a high degree of uncertainty for the long-term sustainability of many producers.
  1. Continued production without addressing the market situation will lead to commoditization, declining profits, and loss of all but the lowest cost producers.
  2. The solution is to develop a way of increasing shrimp consumption in existing markets like the US, EU, Japan, and China and/or establish new markets, especially in regions with high population and low consumption like India (pop: 1.4 billion). 
  3. What learnings from other unified marketing programs in the food/beverage sector are applicable to shrimp?
  4. Should the program be inclusive of wild catch?
  5. Where to start: existing markets like US, China, or Europe, or new markets like India?
  6. Expansion of the market requires collective action with mandatory assessment, improved data collection, rigorous control of product quality, and a narrative based on product versatility, sustainability, and health.
  7. What is needed from producer associations?

To stimulate development of a long-term global shrimp marketing campaign, a bold initiative was proposed at our Summit by Sandro Coglitore of Omarsa (Ecuador), Le Van Quang of Minh Phu (Vietnam), Tony Downs of Sysco (USA), Thanachote Boonmechote of Thai Union/Chicken of the Sea, and Chowdary Kunam of AZ Gems (USA) to quickly create a significant startup fund. This effort has led to a Global Shrimp Council that is developing a global shrimp marketing campaign.

Allan Cooper, Business and Value Creation Director, Vitapro

Tony Downs, Director, Category Management – Seafood, Sysco
Sandro Coglitore, General Manager, Omarsa S.A. / Panama Seafood Group
Le Van Quang, CEO, Minh Phu Seafood Corp.
Thanachote Boonmechote, Managing Director, Shrimp Business, Thai Union


Shrimp farming is a young, dynamic business with innovations occurring rapidly at every level of the value chain. This session focused on 4 areas that are particularly important in improving efficiency and reducing cost: (1) technologies enabling more accurate estimates of shrimp biomass; (2) IT systems with smart tools often driven by AI; (3) a new generation of land-based RAS systems that provide shrimp fresh to local markets; and (4) systems to take advantage of waste streams and the circular economy.

  1. Reliable estimates of shrimp biomass in ponds are essential for efficient management of feeding, control of water and sediment quality, and reduction of carbon emissions. However, shrimp population numbers are notoriously difficult to estimate due to turbid water conditions in ponds, non-uniform distribution of shrimp, and diurnal changes in their activity.
  2. An array of IT tools has emerged recently to improve decision making for shrimp farmers. The challenge is to evaluate the relative merits of each app.
  3. Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) for shrimp are beginning to come into commercial use as a means of providing locally produced shrimp directly to major population centers. Can RAS technologies advance mainstream shrimp farming?
  4. Today’s byproducts are often dumped in the environment or used to create low value products rather than higher value products.
  1. Digital technology is becoming widespread.
  2. Attendees were introduced to new advances in digital technology, systems to improve feeding efficiency (such as moving auto feeders and biomass estimation tools), and more.
  3. Indoor RAS systems will continue to spur innovation.
  4. Upcycling shrimp processing waste through the circular economy is not only a great idea; it is happening in Vietnam and is poised to grow elsewhere as well.

Other needs identified:

  1. Breeding/hatchery: genomic selection, photobioreactors, membrane filtration, algae and artemia replacement.
  2. Farm: Technology driven counting devices to accurately estimate the number of post-larvae or juveniles stocked in ponds and the number of survivors remaining throughout the production cycle.
  3. Farm: A survey of current IT tools to identify and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and recommend next steps.
  4. Farm: Continue to refine RAS technology to reduce water use and effluent discharge of mainstream shrimp farming.
  5. Feed manufacturing: enzyme pre-treatment of ingredients to improve digestibility.
  6. Processing: automated de-heading and peeling.
  7. Waste utilization: develop technologies for processing waste products such as shrimp heads and shells into high value co-products.
  8. Marketing: QR codes on final packs with traceability, sustainability credentials, and product story.

TCRS, The Nature Conservancy, and the Freshwater Institute are collaborating on research that applies computational fluid dynamics to optimizing intensive tank design. RAS systems innovations could advance mainstream shrimp farming.

Manoj Sharma, Managing Director, Mayank Aquaculture Private Limited

Sake Kruk, Researcher – Environmental Policy Group, Wageningen University

Pavan Kosaraju, CEO, AquaExchange Agritech
Loc Phan, Chairman and CEO, Vietnam Food (VNF)
Bert Wecker, Co-CEO and CTO, Oceanloop
Brenda Bowler, Innovation and Product Development Manager, Vitapro S.A.