Shrimp diseases drag down Hawaiian shrimp revenue
Shrimp disease issues in China have dragged down sales of Hawaii’s shrimp broodstock for the second year in a row, data from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) show.
By Liza Mayer
Hawaiian farmed seafood was valued at $75.7 million in 2016, a drop of less than 1 percent from 2015. This marks the second annual decline following a record high of $78.2 million in 2014.
China, a key market for the state’s shrimp broodstock, has faced significant shrimp disease issues, with some farmers reportedly seeing disease rates as high as 70-80 percent and had to clear up to 90 percent of their ponds.
However, Hawaii state officials do not believe the decline is reflective of the state’s entire aquaculture industry.
Liz J. Xu, acting manager at Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture & Livestock Support Services, says the state’s aquaculture production has two key focuses – shrimp broodstock and algae production. Revenues related to algae production actually increased by 1.6 percent to $34.3 million in 2016.
“I think the operators of the shrimp broodstock are used to fluctuations in demand,” says Xu. “We are fully aware of the challenges of controlling diseases. But it is only $2-million less than the highest year. We don’t think it’s a problem. We are not concerned at all. But we do want to strengthen our leadership in the shrimp broodstock industry. So we will make our product better to help shrimp farmers worldwide to fight disease.”
Hawaiian researchers have long been involved in developing specific pathogen-free shrimp, and have more recently worked on breeding shrimp for increased tolerance to viral pathogens such as the taura sydrome virus.
Kathy King, state statistician with NASS, says that she in unconcerned with the sales decline, particularly following record-high years.