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HomeNewsArchivesSHRIMP FARMING IN FLORIDA, COULD V.I. BE NEXT?

SHRIMP FARMING IN FLORIDA, COULD V.I. BE NEXT?

FORT PIERCE, FLORIDA — You could check the classifieds under business opportunities or call a business broker to see what’s available, but either way, chances are you won’t run across a shrimp farm in the mix.
Not yet, anyway, but that could change in the not-too-distant future and you won’t have to own commercial property in the high-rent district to get in on the action.
Technology developed in the last couple of years is what’s making shrimp farming a viable business option for the adventuresome. While shrimp must be hatched in salt water, they can be raised in recirculating fresh water.
Scientists in the aquaculture division of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in Fort Pierce, Florida, are working as a team to do research and demonstration projects in an attempt to advance aquaculture in Florida.
Swap a few letters in the name and the term itself would be agriculture and, in fact, the industry has been moved from the jurisdiction of the Department of Environmental Protection to the Department of Agriculture, said Dr. Kevan Main, deputy director of the aquaculture program at HBOI.
Main and project director David Vaughan have been working closely with people in the citrus, cattle and dairy industries and members of the agriculture community, showing them the potential opportunities for shrimp farming. A. Duda & Sons Inc., an agribusiness in Cocoa, has taken the challenge and includes shrimp farming on its list of activities, and when Main conducts workshops around the state, she takes shrimp from the Duda farm for show and tell.
"If you do a taste test side by side, you might notice a slight difference," Main said, "but that’s not a negative. People say they taste sweeter than shrimp grown in salt water."
Shrimp farming isn’t only for those already engaged in a large-scale agricultural business and it doesn’t require a thousand-acre spread to get started. Main and her colleagues are experimenting with 150 shrimp per square meter in the long, rectangular, lined wooden tanks filling the greenhouses at Harbor Branch, where the water is kept circulating through two filters in the pumping system.
The time from planting of the seed to market is about four months. Seeds are priced from $10 to $20 per 1,000 and the survival rate at Harbor Branch is about 75 percent. Main figures on a lower rate for beginning shrimp farms, but with increased knowledge and experience comes increased success, she said.
The biggest cost factor is the feed, since the shrimp are fed several times a day. Disease can be a part of shrimp farming just as in any other facet of agriculture, but "it shouldn’t be a big problem for those who have gone through training, done their homework and follow the best management strategies for culturing shrimp," Main said.
"Where there has been disease is where they have farms next to each other (on the coast). They pull in sea water that their neighbors might have contaminated (by discharging water from their shrimp tanks). They’re dirtying their own back yards."
Main does not consider an area where people are discharging and taking in water from the same area part of a good management system. That type of problem is more likely to be found in other parts of the world, where discharge permits either don’t exist or are easier to get.
"In Texas, South Carolina, Hawaii, everywhere (shrimp farming) is being done in the United States, in coastal locations or ponds, straight from the sea or from wells, there’s limited discharge. We have strict regulations," Main said.
Harbor Branch is so eager to have people learn the ins and outs of shrimp farming it has set up ACTED, Aquaculture Center for Training, Education and Demonstration, with courses for beginning to advanced entrepreneurs throughout the year. A one-day Backyard Aquaculture workshop features tilapia and costs $95.
On the other end of the scale is the three-week Practical Aquaculture Techniques course for $2,295.
There has been a lot of interest in the business over the past two years,
according to Main, with a steady stream of people, mainly from the citrus community, attending workshops. Since January 1998, three workshops have been held at the 60-acre Aquaculture Development Park, with about 70 people attending the first one.
When you’ve finished the training, if you don’t have your own land yet or feel that hands-on experience with the experts nearby would be the best way for you to get started, you may rent space and equipment in Harbor Branch’s greenhouses or put up your own greenhouse there and fill it with your own equipment. If you raise shrimp at HBIO, Main said, you become a private industry partner and an appropriate contract will be drawn up to define the relationship.
Main cautions entrepreneurs to expect the first year to be capital intensive.
"If you were to build a greenhouse and set it up with filtration (and the other equipment you need) it could cost you about $40,000," she said. "You could spend about $100,000 the first year. With one or two units, at the end of the second or third year you should be making money."
A solid business plan with knowledge of the market is essential, Main emphasized. When the shrimp are harvested, they’re put on ice, which means you better have a market for them immediately. John Harvin, production manager of the shrimp division at A.Duda & Sons said that while there is potential, there is also risk.
"It’s the same as farming, it can be boom or bust. You can have an excellent crop and horrible prices or a horrible crop with excellent prices. You have all the ups and downs of the industry."
Harvin’s operation utilizes outdoor earthen ponds rather than the wooden tanks used by Harbor Branch.
Get along, little shrimp doesn’t have quite the ring that get along, little doggie does, but with the business potential of shrimp-farming, it could very well be worth the effort to learn to sing a new tune.
Willi Miller is a former V.I. resident. Her article first appeared in the Treasure Coast Business Journal, May 1999. Read her letter to the Source about aquaculture in the Open Forum section.

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FORT PIERCE, FLORIDA -- You could check the classifieds under business opportunities or call a business broker to see what’s available, but either way, chances are you won’t run across a shrimp farm in the mix.
Not yet, anyway, but that could change in the not-too-distant future and you won’t have to own commercial property in the high-rent district to get in on the action.
Technology developed in the last couple of years is what’s making shrimp farming a viable business option for the adventuresome. While shrimp must be hatched in salt water, they can be raised in recirculating fresh water.
Scientists in the aquaculture division of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in Fort Pierce, Florida, are working as a team to do research and demonstration projects in an attempt to advance aquaculture in Florida.
Swap a few letters in the name and the term itself would be agriculture and, in fact, the industry has been moved from the jurisdiction of the Department of Environmental Protection to the Department of Agriculture, said Dr. Kevan Main, deputy director of the aquaculture program at HBOI.
Main and project director David Vaughan have been working closely with people in the citrus, cattle and dairy industries and members of the agriculture community, showing them the potential opportunities for shrimp farming. A. Duda & Sons Inc., an agribusiness in Cocoa, has taken the challenge and includes shrimp farming on its list of activities, and when Main conducts workshops around the state, she takes shrimp from the Duda farm for show and tell.
"If you do a taste test side by side, you might notice a slight difference," Main said, "but that’s not a negative. People say they taste sweeter than shrimp grown in salt water."
Shrimp farming isn’t only for those already engaged in a large-scale agricultural business and it doesn’t require a thousand-acre spread to get started. Main and her colleagues are experimenting with 150 shrimp per square meter in the long, rectangular, lined wooden tanks filling the greenhouses at Harbor Branch, where the water is kept circulating through two filters in the pumping system.
The time from planting of the seed to market is about four months. Seeds are priced from $10 to $20 per 1,000 and the survival rate at Harbor Branch is about 75 percent. Main figures on a lower rate for beginning shrimp farms, but with increased knowledge and experience comes increased success, she said.
The biggest cost factor is the feed, since the shrimp are fed several times a day. Disease can be a part of shrimp farming just as in any other facet of agriculture, but "it shouldn’t be a big problem for those who have gone through training, done their homework and follow the best management strategies for culturing shrimp," Main said.
"Where there has been disease is where they have farms next to each other (on the coast). They pull in sea water that their neighbors might have contaminated (by discharging water from their shrimp tanks). They’re dirtying their own back yards."
Main does not consider an area where people are discharging and taking in water from the same area part of a good management system. That type of problem is more likely to be found in other parts of the world, where discharge permits either don’t exist or are easier to get.
"In Texas, South Carolina, Hawaii, everywhere (shrimp farming) is being done in the United States, in coastal locations or ponds, straight from the sea or from wells, there’s limited discharge. We have strict regulations," Main said.
Harbor Branch is so eager to have people learn the ins and outs of shrimp farming it has set up ACTED, Aquaculture Center for Training, Education and Demonstration, with courses for beginning to advanced entrepreneurs throughout the year. A one-day Backyard Aquaculture workshop features tilapia and costs $95.
On the other end of the scale is the three-week Practical Aquaculture Techniques course for $2,295.
There has been a lot of interest in the business over the past two years,
according to Main, with a steady stream of people, mainly from the citrus community, attending workshops. Since January 1998, three workshops have been held at the 60-acre Aquaculture Development Park, with about 70 people attending the first one.
When you’ve finished the training, if you don’t have your own land yet or feel that hands-on experience with the experts nearby would be the best way for you to get started, you may rent space and equipment in Harbor Branch’s greenhouses or put up your own greenhouse there and fill it with your own equipment. If you raise shrimp at HBIO, Main said, you become a private industry partner and an appropriate contract will be drawn up to define the relationship.
Main cautions entrepreneurs to expect the first year to be capital intensive.
"If you were to build a greenhouse and set it up with filtration (and the other equipment you need) it could cost you about $40,000," she said. "You could spend about $100,000 the first year. With one or two units, at the end of the second or third year you should be making money."
A solid business plan with knowledge of the market is essential, Main emphasized. When the shrimp are harvested, they’re put on ice, which means you better have a market for them immediately. John Harvin, production manager of the shrimp division at A.Duda & Sons said that while there is potential, there is also risk.
"It’s the same as farming, it can be boom or bust. You can have an excellent crop and horrible prices or a horrible crop with excellent prices. You have all the ups and downs of the industry."
Harvin’s operation utilizes outdoor earthen ponds rather than the wooden tanks used by Harbor Branch.
Get along, little shrimp doesn’t have quite the ring that get along, little doggie does, but with the business potential of shrimp-farming, it could very well be worth the effort to learn to sing a new tune.
Willi Miller is a former V.I. resident. Her article first appeared in the Treasure Coast Business Journal, May 1999. Read her letter to the Source about aquaculture in the Open Forum section.