|80% to 90% of Shrimp Ponds Are Dry
in Eastern ThailandEarly Mortality Syndrome
Shrimp News (firstname.lastname@example.org): Hi, EMS (early mortality syndrome)—or AHPNS (acute hepatopancreatic necrosis syndrome) as the scientists call it—appears to have reached disastrous levels in Eastern Thailand.
While summarizing this discussion from The Shrimp List, I had to do some interpreting and guessing. If I made a mistake on any of your comments, please let me know and I’ll correct them. Also, the discussion contained some comments that I did not understand and some that were over my head, so I excluded them. You can read all the unedited comments on The Shrimp List.
Daniel Gruenberg (email@example.com): Hi all,
today (January 7, 2013) I drove through the main shrimp farming areas in eastern Thailand, from Pattaya, through Rayong and all the way to nearby Trat Province (on the Cambodian border). I was shocked. I estimated that a minimum of 80% of shrimp ponds in this key production area were dry! Even more shocking, no one was talking about why the ponds were dry. Are we ostriches with our heads in the sand, hoping that the early mortality problem will just go away?
In my opinion, the recent EMS symposium in Bangkok reported on a lot of nonsense theories, and I don’t see the proper steps or research being taken to get a handle on this problem.
Our farm has implement its own R&D program, but it’s still too early to say what the result will be. Our efforts focus on practical methods for coping with or preventing EMS, as opposed to the more academic approach of searching for viruses with electron microscopes. We are not trying to prove Koch’s four principles, which aim to find the cause of a disease; we are trying to find management approaches that result in no disease. I wonder if any other large farmer groups are conducting similar R&D programs?
Attilio E. Castano (firstname.lastname@example.org): Daniel I work on the other side of the Pacific, and so far we do not have EMS, but I was under the impression that the Thai shrimp farming industry did not stock in January because of cool weather. That may be the reason why there are so many dry ponds.
Daniel Gruenberg (email@example.com): Attilio, only the less experienced farms do not stock in January. Although feeding is reduced in the winter months, large, modern, well run, Thai farms have been stocking in January for five years now.
I spoke with the three largest hatcheries in eastern Thailand, and they all confirmed that EMS was not only killing postlarvae (PLs), but that it was also killing broodstock!
Since my first email (above), a friend in a police helicopter flew over Chantaburi Province, also in eastern Thailand, and he confirmed that 90% of the shrimp ponds there were dry.
I asked two processors that I have relationships with if they were having problems getting product and they said “yes”. From all the evidence that I have seen, the problem is much larger than the industry is willing to admit.
Attilio E. Castano (firstname.lastname@example.org): Is there a possibility that people are waiting to stock later in the year or do you think this is a permanent situation?
Daniel Gruenberg (email@example.com): During my drive, I saw a lot of emergency harvests and a lot of dead shrimp in the ponds.
The smaller farms and the less experienced farms will wait until February to stock, but they only represent a small part of what I am observing here, especially considering what I hear from my hatchery manager friends that are losing broodstock after only 20 or 30 days in the hatchery. I am afraid that this problem is getting much bigger than most are willing to admit.
Attilio E. Castano (firstname.lastname@example.org): I hope for the good of your industry that this is not as bad as it sounds. With the prices of fish meal and fish oil so high this year, your industry could be in real trouble.
Pamindangan Farm (email@example.com): Hey Daniel, have you found any trend in farming practices that occurred around the same time EMS struck? A theory presented by a Thai professor during a seminar here in Indonesia suggests that the overuse of probiotics and poor management may be the triggers for EMS in Thailand. Some successful farmers have been using the same management techniques for years with no EMS, so why are they having problems now?
It is true that the disease may have originated from imported broodstock?
So far EMS has not been reported in Indonesia, but it could be here and we don’t know about it. The exchange of information among shrimp farmers is rather “guarded” here, and most failures would be covered up as neatly as possible by pond owners and industry suppliers. Most of them are not open minded, but for the sake of the industry, I hope they get better.
During the IMNV outbreak in 2008, a lot of farmers reduced stocking densities and put more emphasis on maintaining good water quality. I’m not sure if that would work with EMS. What are you doing to cope with EMS?
Leland Lai (firstname.lastname@example.org): Daniel, Attilio and Pamindangan Farm, many years ago when EMS started, we had early reports of it originating in the Bohai Sea in northern China (not confirmed), and as the years passed, it worked its way down the China coast to Hainan Island, then to Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. I don’t know if it (whatever it is) is following ocean currents or if it is transported with seedstock and broodstock. Most of the Penaeus vannamei broodstock and seedstock in China today originated in the Western Hemisphere, much of it from Hawaii, USA. Interestingly, if it did start in the Bohai Sea, then it was probably not with P. vannamei because China was culturing mostly cool water species like P. chinensis at the time.