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Introduction

In 2002, global aquaculture production reached 39.8 million tonnes with a value of US$53.8 thousand million (billion). This represented an increase in production of 5.3 percent by weight and 0.7 percent by value over the previous year. Although cultured crustaceans represented only 5.4 percent of total production by weight, they comprised 20.1 percent of total global aquaculture by value in 2002. Despite being affected by serious disease outbreaks in both Latin America and Asia, the annual rate of growth of the cultured shrimp sector grew by 6.8 percent (by weight) between 1999 and 2000. Although this had dropped to 0.9 percent during 2002, these growth rates are still high relative to other food producing sectors. The global shrimp production has decreased to more modest levels over the last decade (averaging 5 percent) relative to the double-digit growth rates which were observed during the 1970s (23 percent) and 1980s (25 percent) (FAO Fishstat database1, 2003).

Modern shrimp farming began in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when French researchers in Tahiti developed techniques for intensive breeding and rearing of various penaeid shrimp species including Penaeus japonicus, P. monodon and later P. vannamei and P. stylirostris. At the same time, in China, P. chinensis were produced in semi-intensive ponds, while P. monodon were produced in small intensive ponds in Taiwan Province of China. Also, in North America, the Department of Commerce's National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS) began funding research into shrimp farming.

Early penaeid culture efforts in the Americas during this period concentrated on indigenous species including P. setiferus in Panama, P. aztecus and P. occidentalis in Honduras and P. aztecus and P. duorarum in southern United States of America, P. schmitti and P. brasiliensis in Brazil, and then P. stylirostris in Panama. However, initial work with P. vannamei in 1972 gave much better production than the other species. When Brazilian authorities initially banned the import of P. vannamei, culture was started in Panama in 1974. Although P. stylirostris was producing well in Panama, and eyestalk ablation led to easy spawning, year round production was impossible. The better results obtained with P. vannamei encouraged work on maturation and spawning of wild broodstock. Once nutritional requirements of the broodstock were met, eyestalk ablation techniques led to successful all year reproduction of P. vannamei, and it replaced P. stylirostris in Panamanian commercial production in 1978 (Rosenberry, 2001).

By the mid 1970s, fisherfolk and hatcheries were supplying large numbers of postlarvae (PL) shrimp and global cultured shrimp production started to increase rapidly reaching 22 600 tonnes in 1975. At this time, Ecuadorian farms were starting to produce large numbers of P. vannamei through extensive culture. Mainland China and Taiwan Province of China were producing P. chinensis semi-intensively and Thailand's P. monodon industry was just starting. Over the next decade, production grew to 200 000 tonnes, 75 percent of which was from Southeast and Eastern Asia. By 1988, production increased rapidly exceeding 560 000 tonnes principally as a result of increased production from Mainland China, Taiwan Province of China, Ecuador, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines (Rosenberry, 2001).

The first major production crash occurred in Taiwan Province of China during 1987–89, when P. monodon production suddenly declined from 78 500 tonnes to 16 600 tonnes, widely considered to be due to pollution, stress and increased susceptibility to pathogens, especially viruses. Following this crash, Chinese technicians and culture techniques spread around the world, particularly to Thailand, which saw the rapid development of many small intensive farms for P. monodon and which became the world's leading shrimp producer starting in 1993, a position it held until 2000.

In 1989, the first major decline in price for farm-raised shrimp occurred, when farm-gate prices for Asian shrimp fell from US$8.50 to US$4.50/kg. This was largely due to the extended illness and subsequent death of Japan's emperor Hirohito, which stopped shrimp consumption in Japan, the world's largest market at the time. This price decrease may also have been due to the oversupply of shrimp on the world's markets, which had grown by 25 percent over the fairly static 2 million tonnes level sustained for years from fishery, due to the increasing production from shrimp farms.

Further falls in production have subsequently characterized the world's shrimp farming industry, largely viral disease-related. These occurred first in Mainland China when production fell from 207 000 tonnes in 1992 to 64 000 tonnes in 1993–1994 as a result of an outbreak of White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV). Since the early 1990s problems occurred in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, first with Yellow Head Virus (YHV) and then WSSV. The same scenario was seen in Ecuador and the rest of Central America due to bacterial and then viral disease problems, first with Taura Syndrome Virus (TSV) in the mid-1990s and then WSSV from 1999 onwards.

In Asia during the early 1990s, Viet Nam, India and Bangladesh also developed sizeable P. monodon industries. In Latin America, Honduras, Mexico and Colombia developed large semi-intensive industries based on P. vannamei and P. stylirostris. Through the early-to mid-1990s, production hovered around 700 000–900 000 tonnes as some countries experienced severe production downturns, due largely to YHV and WSSV in Asia and TSV in Latin America, while others developed their industries (Table 1). Subsequently, production has risen again, largely due to increased competence in the management of viral problems with P. monodon in Asia, and the closing of the life cycle and development of domesticated and genetically selected lines of P. vannamei in Latin America, and particularly now, with the increasing culture of P. vannamei in Asia.

Globally, marine shrimp continue to dominate crustacean aquaculture, with three major species accounting for over 75 percent of total shrimp aquaculture production in 2002 (the giant tiger prawn, P. monodon; the fleshy prawn, P. chinensis; and the whiteleg shrimp, P. vannamei) (Figure 1). The giant tiger prawn only ranked 16th in terms of global aquaculture production by weight in 2002, but it ranked second in terms of value at US$3 371 billion (second only to the massive production of freshwater silver carp).

World cultured shrimp production levels reached 1.48 million tonnes by 2002 (accounting for more than 49 percent of global capture and cultured shrimp production) (FAO, 2002; Chamberlain, 2003) (Table 1 and Figure 1). The contribution of P. monodon has remained stable at around 600 000 tonnes from 1994 through 2002, while its contribution to world shrimp production has declined from over 63 percent to 40 percent in 2002, as P. chinensis and now particularly P. vannamei productions have increased to more than 500 000 tonnes between them (FAO, 2002). Current estimates compiled for this report suggest that the rapid growth of P. vannamei culture in Asia, particularly in Mainland China and Thailand, may result in a production of nearly 500 000 tonnes of Asian P. vannamei in 2003 (Table 3).

Projections estimate that the world's shrimp culture industry will continue to grow at 12–15 percent/year, although prices in the United States market have been steadily decreasing by 4 percent/year from US$10 to US$8/kg since 1997 (National Marine Fisheries Service Web site2) (Figure 1). In 2003, first quarter figures showed record imports into the United States market, with fairly stable prices, although consumer confidence and the United States and Japanese national economies remain low. Additionally, the increasing oversupply of P. vannamei from first Mainland China and soon other Asian countries, as well as Brazil and other South and Central American countries, will probably lead to a continuation in declining prices. This is compounded by the slow growth rate (9 percent/year since 1996) of the world's largest shrimp market, the United States of America (importing 430 000 tonnes in 2002), the slow European market (300 000 tonnes in 2002) and the declining Japanese market (250 000 tonnes in 2002) (Chamberlain, 2003; Globefish Web site3; NMFS Web site) (Tables 8 and 9, Figure 3). Costs have also increased as the industry adjusts to increasing international standards on product quality and the environment, putting huge pressures on the majority of the world's shrimp producers. In Thailand, declining prices and uncertainty over market access have led a signficant number of farms to shift back to the culture of the indigenous penaeid, P. monodon in 2004.

FIGURE 1

World production of cultured shrimp species (1994–2001)

FIGURE 1

Source: FAO FISHSTAT (2003)

TABLE 1
World production and value of cultured shrimp species (1994–2001)

 Total shrimp and prawnsPenaeus monodonPenaeus chinensisPenaeus vannamei
YearQuantity (t)Value US$ million Value (US$/kg)Quantity (t)Value
US$ million
Value (US$/kg)% of totalQuantity (t)Value
US$ million
Value (US$/kg)% of totalQuantity (t)Value
US$ million
Value (US$/kg)% of total
1994881 9635 8096.59599 3633 8966.506864 3895198.067120 5857366.1114
1995929 8396 0816.54566 4513 4916.166178 8205957.558141 7398616.0715
1996927 9336 1976.68539 6063 8737.185889 2286297.0510140 1808656.1715
1997945 9166 1676.52482 6613 5717.4051104 4567447.1211172 6099435.4618
19981 017 1176 3416.23505 1683 4076.7450143 9329966.9214197 5671 0815.4719
19991 094 3456 9126.32549 5153 9647.2150171 9721 1266.5516186 5731 0335.5417
20001 143 0727 6916.73618 6284 7647.7054219 1521 3256.0519146 0959116.2313
20011 270 8758 4326.63615 2074 7227.6748306 2631 8516.0424184 3531 1336.1515

Source: FAO FISHSTAT (2003)

1 http://www.fao.org/fi/statist/statist.asp

2 hhttp://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ (US Department of Commerce)

3 http://www.globefish.org


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