Production of marine shrimp, Litopenaeus vannamei, is an ideal aquaculture enterprise in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) because of the high farm gate price of $8.00 a pound for fresh shrimp in the local market. At this price, farmers have a fighting chance of sustaining their operation. Recent changes, however, like the hike in the price of energy and imported feed as a result of the global rise in fuel cost, have already started to eat into farm profits. This may make tshrimp farming in the CNMI no longer feasible and sustainable. As a result, farmers will need to explore innovative and sustainable production methods that takes into account the high energy and feed cost and look for ways to minimize them to save the farms. Shrimp production, especially one that utilizes Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS), which is the only viable production system given these small islands and their fragile environment, is inherently energy dependent and, thus, costly to operate. Producing shrimp using the Bio-floc system may make it possible for shrimp farmers in the CNMI to once again turn a profit in their farms and sustain their enterprise. Bio-floc shrimp production involves reducing the need for external mechanical filtration, which contributes to high-energy cost for RAS and instead utilizes biological agents like beneficial bacteria in the Lactobacillus family that not only breaks down organic matter in the tank but also serves as a source of nutrition for the shrimp and, thus, reduces feed cost.
- Lower energy and feed cost for shrimp farmers in the CNMI
- As a result of the cost savings, improve profits and therefore sustain the farms
- Promote sustainable agriculture practices such as shrimp Bio-floc production technology
- Educate other shrimp farmers locally and regionally
Whether at Texas A & M University or Technion University in Israel or shrimp growers in Thailand or Mexico, bio-floc will have place in shrimp aquaculture in the foreseeable future. This knowledge and technology transfer to the CNMI as a result of this Western SARE funded project means that growers here will have the opportunity to implement up to date technology that will help improve profitability and foster environmental stewardship.
Saipan Aquaculture Co., Incorporated had for some time now been utilizing this technology at their shrimp farm in Saipan. Based on information and data collected from their operation, SAICO, INC., has found that with the use of probiotics and brown sugar as a carbon source and aeration to suspend the solids the benefits that they have discovered were multiple; that they were able to conserve water, in a water starved island like Saipan, as a result of minimal water exchange. They have also confirmed that their survival rate has improved tremendously and that their shrimp grow faster and bigger. They have reported that the overall health of the their stock has improved as result of the use of bio-floc technology and noticed decreased mortality during the grow out period.
Reaction from Producers:
The high production cost related to energy and feed makes any innovation that addresses these constraints welcome news to producers in the CNMI. As such the reaction to the bio-floc technology presented at the workshop was positive and has encouraged investors to explore shrimp farming as an investment opportunity.
Educational & Outreach Activities
The use of Bio-floc technology in shrimp production was shared with farmers in a workshop that was held on November 25, 2014 at the Northern Marianas College instructional site in the island of Rota. Information about bio-floc was also shared with visitors that came to tour the farm.
Title: Shrimp Farming in Bio-floc Systems
Date: November 25, 2014
Location: NMC Instructional Site, Rota, CNMI, USA
As a result of this project, current and potential CNMI shrimp farmers are aware and have become familiar with shrimp bio-floc technology that they can integrate into their production system. By doing so, farmers can reduce energy and feed cost, improve shrimp growth performance, improve and protect shrimp health, and reduce impacts on the fragile island environments. Unfortunately, Phase II of the project was not implemented due to issues with access to the shrimp tank. In lieu of this development, we worked with Saipan Aquaculture Co., Inc., an early adopter of the concept, to share their data on shrimp bio-floc. Their interpretation of their data confirms our hypothesis on the benefits of bio-floc as previously stated.
Demonstrations of shrimp bio-floc in the island of Tinian, as well as transfer of this technology to Tilapia growers will help promote the positive attributes of this production method.
- Michael M. Ogo Subject, activity, and significance to the project: Participants in the shrimp bio-floc workshop listening and digesting information from the presentation.
- Mr. Augustine Maratita checking the condition of his shrimp and water quality on Phase I of the Bio-floc project; conventional shrimp grow – out.
- Photo of juvenile marine shrimp taken after sampling. Phase I of the bio-floc project; conventional shrimp grow – out.
- Mr. Michael M. Ogo, Aquaculture Extension Agent, giving a presentation in shrimp production using bio-floc. Project Coordinator, Mr. Augustine Maratita, gentleman with cap sitting up front.