Experimental shrimp cultivation in Klaipeda

Lithuanians are seeking to acquire the knowledge and technologies that will offer them greater competitiveness in the aquaculture industry and that will effectively employ the country’s existing geothermal resources. For that purpose, an experimental facility that has been designed for industrial shrimp farming started operating in Klaipėda in July 2018.

The facility is expected to produce around 400 kg of whiteleg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) in four months and will help the operators to accumulate valuable experience, which will be transferred to companies planning to engage in this relatively new business in Lithuania. 

Cooperation with Klaipeda University

The Klaipėda Science and Technology Park participates in the “InnoAquaTech” project together with partners from the South Baltic Region. Its main task is to establish and run an experimental shrimp facility at the Klaipėda University (KU) Business Incubator. The set-up and running costs amount to about 100.000 euro, and is partly financed by EU funds.

Designed by German specialists, produced in Poland and installed in Klaipėda, the small-scale system will serve as a long-term experimental base. The main objective is to evaluate the biological and ecological conditions for shrimp farming, with the aim to adopt good practices together with the KU scientists. The project implementation will open up for future possibilities to consult with those willing to invest in this kind of system, to learn more about its design and to evaluate the basic conditions and the key risks.

This aquaculture system and the equipment contained within it will undoubtedly be of use to the students as well − in addition to visiting the facility with their teachers, young academics will be able to carry out experiments and monitoring.

Geothermal resources as the trump card

A major impetus for creating such a system is the geothermal potential of the Klaipėda region. The Klaipėda Science and Technology Park wishes to find the best ways to capture the potential of this unused but extremely clean energy source. A large number of discussions were held with scientists to determine what heat-sensitive species would be most suitable for industrial farming using geothermal energy. Shrimp was chosen as one potential high added value business.

Analogous recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) have been successfully implemented in Germany and are operating in both universities and the private sector. Some shrimp breeding companies have existed for 15 years and are successfully selling this high-value product on the market.

The right competences and targeted marketing could secure a strong position for the shrimp breeding business in Lithuania, through a supply of fresh products to traders and restaurants. The lower production costs of the crustaceans could also allow for sales in foreign markets, as non-frozen shrimp can be transported from Klaipėda to the large cities of Poland and Germany in just 12 hours.

Shipment from the USA

Our shrimps are reared in eight large tanks, containing brackish water of about 28 degrees Celsius. The RAS technology uses water-saving techniques and is particularly favourable to the environment. Most shrimp are cultivated in earth-ponds in rainforest areas of Southern Asia. Once the ponds are abandoned, these areas are left in a deserted state for years – an ecological catastrophe.

In July 2018, around 2000 shrimp larvae were imported from the only certified and disease-free supplier of this crustacean species for EU member states, based in Florida. Importing shrimps from Asian suppliers is still prohibited due to the occurrence of regional diseases in the 1980s that resulted in vast amounts of shrimps dying on aquaculture farms in Europe.

Shrimps cultivated in individual tanks can reach their required size in 4 to 5 months. Although the ‘harvest’ from the KU Business Incubator will not be for sale, we hope to find a way to also supply Klaipeda citizens of with regionally produced high-quality shrimp.

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