2013 Shrimp Production Decline Spurs Change in Exporter Lineup

While 2013 saw a decline in shrimp availability within the U.S., imports are already on the rise in 2014. In January and February of 2014 alone the amount of shrimp imported to the U.S. has increased by 15%, from 32,728 to 37,683 metric tons. Although availability within the U.S. is slowly recovering, effects of disease and devastating weather on foreign shrimp farms has created a shift in the top countries exporting shrimp.

Early Mortality Syndrome, or EMS, ravaged foreign shrimp growers throughout 2013, killing off huge quantities of farmed shrimp. The disease targeted young shrimp by converting naturally occurring bacteria in their bodies into a harmful toxin. With a mortality rate of 90% and a high transferability rate, EMS spread rapidly throughout open-pen farms, which lack the bio-secure standards essential to growing healthy, high-quality shrimp.

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China, Thailand, and Vietnam,the world’s former top three shrimp exporters, were all hit particularly hard by the disease. In 2013, China’s shrimp production in particular dramatically decreased, suffering a 20% decline from 1.4 million metric tons produced in 2012 to 1.1 million metric tons. Last year accounted for the lowest shrimp production rate in China since 2008, with a series of typhoons and cold water temperatures further depleting stock.

Approximately 50% of southern Chinese shrimp farmers reported failed crops in 2013, while more than 80% are estimated to have lost money. Similarly, Thailand’s shrimp exports already dropped by a reported 49% since last year, decreasing from 7,082 to 3,583 metric tons during January and February of 2014.

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Image courtesy Shrimp News International.

Changes in shrimp availability are influencing imports to the U.S., with Ecuador, Indonesia, India, and Vietnam stepping up as leading suppliers. Shrimp production in Ecuador has increased by 56% compared to last year, making them the top exporter overall for the year so far. Vietnam saw in increase as well, with shrimp stock available for export growing by over 86%, from 2,358 to 9,399 metric tons.

While changing dynamics within foreign aquaculture are effecting shrimp stock, the delicious seafood is still in high demand. Open-pen shrimp farming will continue to leave stock prey to disease, predation, and devastating weather, while harming precious coastal ecosystems around the world. By encouraging sustainable practices and providing high quality shrimp raised in a bio-secure environment, Florida Organic Aquaculture is helping enhance seafood production into the future.

Sources:

“US Shrimp Imports Up 15% in February.” Undercurrent News. April 3, 1024. Web. April 2014.

“China Status of Shrimp Farming in 2013.” Shrimp News International. April 3, 2014. Web. April 2014.