SteveNewmanGlobal Aquaculture Issues is authored by Dr. Stephen Newman. Dr. Newman is a marine microbiologist with more than three decades of experience in the global business of aquaculture.

Recently, Consumer Reports published the results of some testing that they conducted on farmed shrimp. Consumers Union (CU), the publisher of Consumer Reports, is a prestigious organization known for impartial observations that consumers use to formulate informed decisions about buying a myriad of consumer goods and services. Bias is not typical of their approach.

The research that was reported in the article, “How safe is your shrimp” was funded by an NGO [The Pew Charitable Trusts] with a...

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Many people fail to understand that the term “organic” when used on produce in the U.S. is actually based on a legal definition. While there are many who believe that this should not be the case, the reality is that when regulators accede to allow the word organic to be tacked onto a food for consumers, there are guidelines that dictate what is legal to use in the production of these items. There are many purists who would tell you that some of these production methods should not be used and...

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It seems that all too many people are still not getting the message, despite the fact I’ve been saying for many months there is no imminent recovery of shrimp farming to the production levels of a few years ago. Disease is a fact of life.

Agricultural production is highly susceptible to disease -- aquaculture even more so. This is a partly a result of production paradigms that ignore time-honored biosecurity measures, and where short term gain is more important than long term sustainable...

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Over the last several years, the gradual spread of a particularly nasty species of Vibrio parahaemolyticus, responsible for what has widely become known as “Early Mortality Syndrome,” or EMS, has had a serious impact on the overall availability of farmed shrimp.

This, in turn, has resulted in the demand outstripping the supply, with countries that remain unaffected enjoying the economic benefit. There are reports saying the extent to which the disease is impacting some areas is waning, and...

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Several reports have been published recently that state that the current disease problems due to infection by an unusual strain of Vibrio parahaemolyticus that have severely affected the production of farmed shrimp is under control, and that those areas affected the heaviest are showing signs of recovery.

Unfortunately this is not true and is little more than wishful thinking. This pathogen has very solidly entrenched itself, and while a great deal of work is being done to try and mitigate its...

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It is human nature that at least some of the organizations that have permeated our social system, mainly organizations with lofty intentions and aspirations to “change the world” are focused on their perspectives at the expense of others. The definition of sustainability is one element of this. These organizations are widely touting their own or other acceptable standards (to them) as ensuring that aquaculture production is done in a sustainable manner. The same can be said of the capture...

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EMS (AHPNS) is not showing any evidence of going away, although its impact has been observed as “waning” in some areas. We know that some environments seem to be more consistent in terms of productivity than others, although it is difficult to draw broad across the board conclusions. Currently efforts are under way to characterize what common features might be present to explain why some are affected and others are not. I do not believe that this is going to solve the problem, although if we...

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Fishmeal is an essential component of many types of aquaculture feeds. It is a valuable protein source for ensuring optimum growth, health and taste. For some species plant proteins, sometimes with a little tweaking to optimize, are viable substitutes. The use of fishmeal is controversial to some and in the long run, we are all best served by the inclusion of lower cost protein sources. This is a process that takes time for validation. Aquaculturists are not producing fish solely for the good...

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With the announcement in the U.S. that the Monterrey Bay Aquarium (MBA), long an outspoken critic of almost all farmed shrimp, has decided that if the shrimp are certified by the GAA that this changes their position, we can chalk up a win for shrimp farmers everywhere. However, it is a mistake to think that apparent compliance with a set of standards equates with sustainability or that it automatically means that the product is somehow better or safer than shrimp that have not paid for the...

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Over the last three and half decades, I have watched aquaculture grow rapidly (often too quickly) outside of the U.S. and watched U.S. companies struggle with high regulatory costs and business models that simply were not viable.

Despite this, there is a solid aquaculture industry in the U.S. although the industry cannot meet the needs of the U.S. and some facets of the industry, such as the catfish farming industry, have struggled against imports. Note that this is a generalization. Some... Read More

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