Quarantine lifted at shrimp RAS hatchery
By Mari-Len De Guzman
U.S. government officials have lifted a quarantine imposed on the La Coste, Texas shrimp hatchery of aquaculture company, NaturalShrimp Inc. In early August this year, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department ordered the company to temporarily stop its shrimp production after infectious hypodermal and hematopoietic virus (IHHNV) was found in NaturalShrimp’s shipments.
NaturalShrimp patented a commercially-operational, salt-water, recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) specifically for shrimp. The company produces gourmet-grade Pacific white shrimp. The company says it grows its shrimp without the use of antibiotics.
In a statement released Sept. 5, the company said it will begin restocking its nursery tanks this month but said the quarantine has prompted the company to re-evaluate its safety protocols.
“In the future, the company’s isolated nursery tanks will add an extra measure of safety protocol through early detection of the IHHNV prior to the stocking of grow-out tanks, in case this remote possibility happens again,” the statement said. IHHNV is a viral disease of penaeid shrimp. It causes mass mortality among the Western blue shrimp and severe deformation in the Pacific white shrimp.
NaturalShrimp and its partner have developed a water recirculating process that controls ammonia and bacteria in its tanks. Using this process, the company claims it is able to grow its shrimp to market size in about 24 weeks.
Hatcheries are required to quarantine virus-free post larvae (PL) shrimp supplies through their own independent laboratory testing. Back in July, the TPWD inspected NaturalShrimp’s La Coste facility but they found nothing unusual although the company’s managers noted that the shrimp were growing slower than expected. Results of further testing of samples revealed that the Pacific white shrimp were infected with IHHNV and that facility was subsequently quarantined.
The company said it worked with TPWD and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal Plant Inspection Services (USDA/APHIS) to remove the virus. This was the first time in its 18 years of operation that IHHNV was detected in its shrimps, according to the company.
“Although this virus was not caused by NaturalShrimp or our systems, we are happy to help with the eradication of this virus in our facility,” Gerald Easterling, CEO of NaturalShrimp said. “Our systems continue to operate at the highest levels of efficiency and safety.”
“Because of our technology, the shrimp were able to survive despite the virus outbreak,” according to Tom Untermeyer, chief technology officer of the company. “Although this virus does not affect people, we are still happy that no human consumption of the ill shrimp took place.”