Day 86 | Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala | Long Gone Are The Ocean Shrimp
As far as my eyes could see in any direction were ponds of water with mechanical aerators whirling the water around and around. Shrimp farming (the production and harvesting of shrimp in ponds or tanks) right here in Iztapa, Guatemala? The five components of the farm included a hatchery to produce seed stock, raceway tanks or pre-engineered maturation tanks plumbed and wired, feed-mills for shrimp food, a processing and freezing plant contracted out locally and a marketing office. Although the climate of Guatemala is relatively benign and void of pollution, a concern over earthquakes from volcanoes and periodic hurricanes cause constant concern for the AquaCulture industry of shrimp farming.
Asia provides 70% of the world?s shrimp supply and the rest is supplied by Latin America. Thailand accounts for nearly 30% of world production. Ponds are limed and fertilized before stocking to encourage a plankton bloom. Larvae are acclimated before stocking in ponds to avoid stress. Pelleted food with 40% crude protein is applied five times a day.
Shrimp are harvested by draining the ponds. The shrimp are caught in large nets attached to the outlet pipe for the out-flowing water. They are then sorted into various sizes in suitable containers and placed on ice for transport to processing plants where they are washed and sorted as heads-on, shell-on, peeled tails, and other value-added products. Paper cartons await the shrimp. They are frozen and transported to market by ship.
After harvest, the pond bottoms are allowed to sun bake for several weeks to recondition the soils. Limestone applied to the soil helps neutralize acidity. The dry ponds are tilled with disk plows to enhance contact with the air. Oxygen serves to promote oxidation of the soil and microbial degradation of organic matter. Ponds are then refilled and the next crop is started. These farms produce two or three crops a year.
The guard at the gate would not let my taxi come in for a closer look at the privately-owned farm. From the road, the ponds appeared to have clean water surrounded by footpaths, and the equipment and condition of the structures seemed to be of the best quality. Consumers these days are concerned about quality and the management of farms, whether producing seafood or land crops. It is helpful to witness a modern farming operation with eyes and camera.