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31 March, 2008

The History of Shrimp Culture

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Shrimp have been farmed for centuries in Asia, using traditional low-density methods. Indonesian brackish water ponds called tambaks can be traced back as far as the 15th century. Shrimp were farmed on a small scale in ponds, in monocultures or together with other species such as milkfish, or in rotation with rice, using the rice paddies for shrimp cultures during the dry season, when no rice could be grown.

Such traditional cultures often were small operations in coastal areas or on river banks. Mangrove areas were favoured because of their naturally abundant supply of shrimp. Wild juvenile shrimp were trapped in ponds and reared on naturally occurring organisms in the water until they had the desired size and then were harvested.

The origins of industrial shrimp farming can be traced back to the 1930s, when Kuruma shrimp (Penaeus japonicus) was spawned and cultivated for the first time in Japan. By the 1960s, a small shrimp farming industry had appeared in Japan.[3] Commercial shrimp farming began in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Technological advances led to ever more intensive forms of shrimp farming, and the growing market demand led to a proliferation of shrimp farms throughout the world, concentrated in tropical and sub-tropical regions. The growing consumer demand coincided in the early 1980s with faltering wild shrimp catches, creating a veritable boom in shrimp aquaculture. Taiwan was amongst the early adopters and a major producer in the 1980s; its production collapsed beginning in 1988 due to poor management practices and disease.

In Thailand, large-scale intensive shrimp farming expanded rapidly from 1985. In South America, shrimp farming was pioneered by Ecuador, where it expanded dramatically from 1978. Brazil had been active in shrimp farming since 1974, but the trade really boomed there only in the 1990s, making the country a major producer within a few years. Today, there are marine shrimp farms in over fifty countries.

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