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Background note

This review was undertaken during a period of extremely rapid change in the culture and trade of P. vannamei in the Asia Pacific region. It is always difficult to keep up with such changes but this short note aims to show how some of the information contained in this document has already changed. Although much of this information is anecdotal, it is indicative as to how quickly situations are changing and of the challenges this presents to countries as they try to implement responsible management of P. vannamei production. It also highlights the problems that the industry faces as it attempts to adjust to the constant changes in market conditions locally, as well as internationally.

PRODUCTION

Production projections presented in this paper have in some cases been underestimated and, although official figures are not available, it is clear that production of shrimp in mainland China is far higher than anticipated due to tremendous growth in the sector, while the percentage of P. vannamei in this total remains approximately 71–76 percent.

In Thailand production of P. vannamei has also increased dramatically from an estimate of about 40 percent to a current unofficial estimate of approximately 70 percent of total production, with prospects for an increase to 80–90 percent of 500 000 tonnes in 2005. Stocking densities of 80–180 SPF PL/m2 have frequently generated yields >10 tonnes/ha/crop, with yields as high as 30 tonnes/ha/crop at >80 percent survival not being uncommon. Nearly all of the hatcheries and farms producing P. monodon around Thailand have either closed or switched to producing P. vannamei. A new crude estimate of shrimp production from the region can be derived of approximately 843 500 tonnes in 2004, with P. vannamei representing an overall proportion of 52 percent of the total production.

CountryTotal shrimp production (t)Estimated P. vannamei production 2004Percent of total
China600 000426 00071%
Thailand450 000320 00071%
Viet Nam205 00030 00015%
Indonesia130 00030 00023%
Taiwan Prov. of China19 0008 00042%
Philippines38 0005 00013%
Malaysia27 00023 50087%
India150 0001 0001%
ESTIMATED TOTAL 20041 619 000843 50052%

DOMESTIC, REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE

The massive and rapidly increasing production of P. vannamei has had the expected impacts on processing with a serious depression of prices in the international markets. Mainland China, which has a massive production of P. vannamei, is finding that within its domestic market prices are extremely low, which is leading farmers to seek alternative production strategies. It is not clear whether the economic pressure on Chinese farmers is also linked to emerging disease problems forcing early harvest and consequently small shrimp size and low prices.

A recent anti-dumping case in the United States of America resulted in the establishment of tariffs. In late 2002 and throughout 2003, the prospect of tariffs and subsequent reduced demand, led farmers in some of the countries named in the anti-dumping suit to hold back on stocking P. vannamei until the decision to proceed on the anti-dumping suit was made. Once the tariffs were (provisionally) established, farmers (particularly in Thailand and Malaysia) began stocking so that P. vannamei culture is representing an increasing percentage of the overall production.

A petition to the United States Department of Commerce International Trade Commission (USITC) was initiated on behalf of the Ad Hoc Shrimp Trade Action Committee, comprising of a consortium of shrimp fishermen from the Southern United States of America, on 31 December 2003. This petition claimed that excess production of cheap warm-water shrimp from outside the United States of America was being dumped onto the United States market in order to increase their market share. They claimed that this was resulting in damage to their shrimp fishery industry and demanded imposition of tariffs at up to 267 percent.

After consideration of these claims, the USITC voted to impose antidumping duties on imports of frozen warm-water shrimp and prawns from Brazil, China, Ecuador, India, Thailand and Viet Nam. The duties were levied on frozen warm-water shrimp and prawns in any count size and of all species, whether of wild-caught or aquaculture origin. Canned shrimp were not subjected to the duties.

The initial anti-dumping duties were fixed equal to the calculated dumping margins. The duties were from 2.35 to 67.8 percent for Brazil, Ecuador, India and Thailand, up to 93.13 percent for Viet Nam and up to 112.81 percent for China. The rates for Viet Nam and China were considered separately and higher than the others since the department regarded them as “non-market economies”.

The second phase of duties was announced for Viet Nam and China on 30 November 2004 for mandatory respondents at 0–84.93 percent for China and at 4.13–25.76 percent for Viet Nam. The “Section A” rates (for those companies not investigated, but proved to be independent from the government and equal to a weighted average of the mandatory respondent's rates) increased from 49.09 percent to 55.23 percent for companies in China and decreased from 16.1 percent to 4.38 percent for companies in Viet Nam. The countrywide rate remained the same for China at 112.81 percent and decreased from 93.13 percent to 25.76 percent for Viet Nam.

The second phase announcements for the “market economies” were made on 20 December 2004 and announced the following rates:

Finally, the affirmative injury determinations were made on 26 January 2005 and announced the following rates:

However, the commissioners agreed to initiate a review of the cases concerning India and Thailand, who were badly affected by the 26 December 2004 tsunami event in January 2006. This was to assess whether the impact of the tsunami on their shrimp industries justified re-opening the investigations. This investigation is currently ongoing.

The southern United States of America shrimp fisherman believe that the imposition of these duties will help them to compete with their foreign rivals, especially with the expected windfall of duties which should be paid to the United States companies as a result of the Byrd amendment. However, the shrimp producing countries subject to the duties claim that they can produce shrimp cheaper through aquaculture than the United States shrimp fisherman can through fishing and that the antidumping duties are unfair. They, and the United States companies that distribute the shrimp also believe that the imposition of duties will hurt themselves and consumers due to decreased farm gate value and increased prices for consumers.

Worse news for the shrimp industries of these countries came on 15 March 2005, when the United States customs adopted a new rule that required all exporters to post a bond equal to the value of their year's exports multiplied by the final rate of the antidumping duties as announced on 26 January. Although these bonds are valid for one year, they cannot be redeemed for three years, meaning that the companies must have two or three bonds running concurrently, which is excessively expensive for most. This has resulted in exporters reducing orders from shrimp farms, and severe reductions in the prices paid for shrimp from the farmers. It has also had serious negative effects for the hatcheries and all associated companies and personnel. The economic situation for the shrimp farmers and associated industries in all of the cited countries is thus currently very poor.

Although excluded from the original anti-dumping suit, Indonesia may face the prospect of anti-dumping action after concerns over the importation of P. vannamei from China which were reprocessed and repackaged in Indonesia, gave the appearance that they originated from Indonesia. Indonesian shrimp exports to the United States of America have increased markedly following the anti-dumping suit there, more than doubling to $10.5 million in the first 8 months of 2004. A local impact of these transshipments is the reduced farm-gate value of shrimp for the Indonesian farmers, which destabilizes their growing industry.

European Union concerns regarding residues of Chloramphenicol in shrimp depressed the European market for some countries although this seems to have been transitory. Chinese farmers appear to have avoided the use of banned antibiotics, but some shipments to the European Union and the United States of America are still testing positive for Chloramphenicol and nitrofurans, further limiting China's marketing potential in these areas. China has had to turn more towards its own domestic market for sales of its relatively low priced P. vannamei. Chinese shrimp exports declined by 74 percent to the United States of America in 2004 compared to the previous year.

The Thai government is currently negotiating with the European Union to reinstate the generalized system of preferential tariffs to Thailand, which could cut tariffs on exports to the EU from 12 to 4 percent. This would return Thailand to a similar tariff level as other countries in the region, including Viet Nam, India and Indonesia.

DISEASE

The wide availability of P. vannamei in a number of producing countries has had mixed results. On the one hand, good quality post larvae produced from hatcheries using Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) broodstock has given excellent pond yields and farmers have been quick to switch from the species which they were previously producing. On the other hand, problems have occurred with the sale of post larvae from contaminated stocks which have led to pond losses and disease outbreaks, particularly in the last few months of 2004, coinciding with the onset of the rainy season (and changeable, stressful environmental conditions).

Disease events have been increasingly reported during 2004 (NACA/FAO Quarterly aquatic animal disease report April–June 2004):

Other countries that do not report as part of the NACA/FAO Quarterly aquatic animal disease report that appear to have experienced TSV are China PR and Taiwan POC.

Several other countries that still have official bans or restrictions on the import and culture of P. vannamei unofficially report an increased percentage of production from P. vannamei (i.e. Malaysia). Other countries (such as the Philippines) have recently lifted their ban on the culture of P. vannamei and farmers are beginning to produce PL and stock this species widely.

TSV and WSSV viruses, having had little effect during the hot, high seasons for shrimp culture, have returned with a vengeance during the cooler rainy season and have had severe economic consequences on Thai P. vannamei farms. Evidence shows that TSV has made the jump to local stocks of P. monodon, although without yet causing clinical signs of disease. This may be in response to the continued mutation of the TSV virus. The strains found in Asia seem to have evolved from the original American strains by way of China, with new strains now appearing in Thailand and other countries in the region. The implications for disease tolerance of the TSV resistant SPF shrimp available from the United States of America are still unclear, but may require local efforts to develop TSV resistant broodstocks of P. vannamei around the region.

POLICY AND MANAGEMENT

The widespread recognition that the entry of P. vannamei to countries has resulted in the circumvention of control mechanisms, and the pressure from within the country by producers to allow importation of stocks has led to a review of national policy in several countries.

Thailand has undertaken a partial risk assessment of the importation on P. vannamei and the results have enabled the Department of Fisheries to establish working guidelines for the importation of SPF broodstock and for the establishment of registration procedures for hatcheries.

The Thai Department of Fisheries has already certified four broodstock production facilities in the United States of America (three in Hawaii and one in Florida) and is in the process of certifying four more in an attempt to meet the high demand for SPF broodstock.

An aspect learned from this case has been that, in the face of strong demand from within an industry, a complete ban on imports are unlikely to be successful and that risk assessment should be undertaken as soon as a likely issue is identified. Importantly the development of a rational management response to importation seems to be essential if compliance is to be maximized and the “driving underground” of illegal imports is to be minimized.

Limited and licensed importations of SPF broodstock are increasingly being allowed (in Thailand, Indonesia, Viet Nam, the Philippines, etc.) but there is clear evidence that the international demand for SPF broodstock is far beyond the ability of a limited number of suppliers to fulfil. This is encouraging some countries to develop their own stock of SPF shrimp - both of P. vannamei and also indigenous species. The leader in this area is mainland China, with a growing interest in Thailand as well as in a number of other countries.

Although the development of Asian stocks of SPF and SPR shrimp is a natural solution to the problem of limited supply, there is still a high degree of production from stocks that were originally SPF but are no longer so. The lack of rapid testing and comprehensive testing facilities and infrastructure in the major producing countries is a weak point that will need to be resolved if farmers are to continue to accept that SPF stock really do reduce the risk of disease and crop loss.


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