NaturalShrimp Incorporated (OTC:SHMP) said that the joint patent it announced recently for the first commercially viable system for growing aquatic species indoors is not only for shrimp, which the Company is nearing bringing to market, but for the propagation of all fish.
The patent also covers aquatic arthropods including lobster and mollusks, such as oysters and clams. NaturalShrimp and F&T Water Solutions, LLC received U.S. Patent No. 10,163,199 B2 for the Recirculating Aquaculture System and Treatment Method for Aquatic Species on December 25, 2018. NaturalShrimp maintains the exclusive worldwide rights for any and all shrimp species utilizing this patent.
“Our initial focus is bringing shrimp to market by replicating our indoor technology in regional production centers outside New York, City, Chicago and Las Vegas. But it is very important for our investors to know the broad implications of the patent we received,” said Bill G. Williams, CEO.
Shrimp is a multi-billion dollar industry and although not the type of thing that gets people excited, the underlying business here could be enormous.
Shrimp is a well-known and globally-consumed commodity, constituting one of the most important types of seafood and a staple protein source for much of the world. According to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, the world consumes approximately 9 billion pounds of shrimp annually with over 1.7 billion pounds consumed in the United States alone. Approximately 65% of the global supply of shrimp is caught by ocean trawlers and the other 35% is produced by open-air shrimp farms, mostly in developing countries.
Shrimp boats catch shrimp through the use of large, boat-towed nets. These nets are quite toxic to the undersea environment as they disturb and destroy ocean-bottom ecosystems; these nets also catch a variety of non-shrimp sea life, which is typically killed and discarded as part of the shrimp harvesting process. Additionally, the world’s oceans can only supply a finite amount of shrimp each year, and in fact, single-boat shrimp yields have fallen by approximately 20% since 2010 and continue to decrease. The shrimping industry’s answer to this problem has been to deploy more (and larger) boats that deploy ever-larger nets, which has in the short-term been successful at maintaining global shrimp yields.
However, this benefit cannot continue forever, as eventually global demand has the potential of outstripping the oceans’ ability to maintain the natural ecosystem’s balance, resulting in a permanent decline in yields. When taken in light of global population growth and the ever-increasing demand for nutrient-rich foods such as shrimp, this is clearly an unsustainable production paradigm.
Shrimp farming, known in the industry as “aquaculture,” has ostensibly stepped in to fill this demand/supply imbalance. Shrimp farming is typically done in open-air lagoons and man-made shrimp ponds connected to the open ocean. Because these ponds constantly exchange water with the adjacent sea, the farmers are able to maintain the water chemistry that allows the shrimp to prosper.
However, this method of cultivating shrimp also carries severe ecological peril. First of all, most shrimp farming is primarily conducted in developing countries, where poor shrimp farmers have little regard for the global ecosystem. Because of this, these farmers use large quantities of antibiotics and other chemicals that maximize each farm’s chance of producing a crop, putting the entire system at risk.
For example, a viral infection that crops up in one farm can spread to all nearby farms, quite literally wiping out an entire region’s production. In 1999, the White Spot virus invaded shrimp farms in at least five Latin American countries: Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama and Ecuador and in 2013-14 EMS (Early Mortality Syndrome) wiped out most of the Asia Pacific region and Mexico. Secondly, there is also a finite amount of coastline that can be used for shrimp production – eventually shrimp farms that are dependent on the open ocean will have nowhere to expand. Again, this is an ecologically damaging and ultimately unsustainable system for producing shrimp.
In both the cases, the current method of shrimp production is unsustainable. As global populations rise and the demand for shrimp continues to grow, the current system is bound to fall short. Shrimp trawling cannot continue to increase production without completely depleting the oceans’ natural shrimp population.
Trends in per-boat yield confirm that this industry has already crossed the overfishing threshold, putting the global open-ocean shrimp population in decline. While open-air shrimp aquaculture may seem to address this problem, it is also an unsustainable system that destroys coastal ecological systems and produces shrimp with very high chemical contamination levels. Closed-system shrimp farming is clearly a superior alternative, but its unique challenges have prevented it from becoming a widely-available alternative – until now.
Of the 1.7 billion pounds of shrimp consumed annually in the United States, over 1.3 billion pounds are imported – much of this from developing countries’ shrimp farms. These farms are typically located in developing countries and use high levels of antibiotics and pesticides that are not allowed under USDA regulations.
As a result, these shrimp farms produce chemical-laden shrimp in an ecologically unsustainable way. Unfortunately, most consumers here in the United States are not aware of the origin of their store-bought shrimp or worse, that which they consume in restaurants.
This is due to a USDA rule that states that only bulk-packaged shrimp must state the shrimp’s country of origin; any “prepared” shrimp, which includes arrangements sold in grocery stores and seafood markets, as well as all shrimp served in restaurants, can simply be sold “as is.” Essentially, this means that most U.S. consumers may be eating shrimp laden with chemicals and antibiotics. NaturalShrimp’s product is free of pesticide chemicals and antibiotics, a fact that we believe is highly attractive and beneficial in terms of our eventual marketing success.