The team of the Laboratory of Fisheries and Aquaculture at the Marine Research Institute of Klaipėda University had grown the third shrimp colony before Easter. The exotic crustaceans, crawling and swimming in four basins, have reached a length of 15 centimeters and a weight of 23-25 grams in four months. The yield planned by the researchers is 80 to 100 kilograms.
Shrimps, which had been closely monitored and supervised, grew under strict biosecurity conditions to protect them from disease and the need for therapeutic chemicals: one of the aims of the tests was to keep the final product as clean as possible, in line with global organic food trends. Jonas Lelys, a 2nd year biology and marine biotechnology student who had worked with this marine culture in the laboratory, chose another field of observation for his course paper and research – the effect of stress on shrimp and their mortality. “Shrimps are extremely sensitive to stress. Any changes in water temperature or insufficient food can also be a stress factor. One way to create a quiet environment for them is to feed them regularly. The bigger the belly, the happier the shrimp,” the prospective aquaculture specialist shared his experience of caring for the said crustaceans.
Upon spending four months in the pools of the KU Business Incubator, the shrimp will soon be harvested, and the pools filled with other larvae, initially barely visible to the naked eye, brought from suppliers abroad. The fourth cycle of growing shrimps will also be used for testing the new technological equipment developed by KU specialists. “The new shrimp colony will grow both in the pools and in the tower we have built, which takes up less space but can accommodate more crustaceans. We will constantly monitor their growth rates and have the opportunity to compare the efficiency of technologies. We are planning another shrimp colony in about 5 months,” says Gintautas Narvilas, aquaculture specialist.
The aim of all these scientific experiments is to develop an efficient technology for growing a seafood product popular in the market. Since shrimp grow in natural conditions in the salty Pacific Ocean, they also need such water in closed systems, yet Klaipėda researchers try to grow them in a lower salinity milieu; Klaipėda geothermal water resources are to be used for aquaculture. “A large part of the science of aquaculture focuses on the development and supply of cheaper or more effective food, as food accounts for the largest share of the cost of aquaculture products. In the case of marine recirculating aquaculture, substantial costs arise due to the preparation of artificial seawater using salt. If we could find ways to make efficient use of the available natural resources, we could offer businesses technologies that reduce the cost of the final product. And this would promote the development of aquaculture itself,” says Nerijus Nika, Head of the KU Fisheries and Aquaculture Laboratory.
KU Rector prof. dr. Artūras Razbadauskas is sure that aquaculture is a promising field of both science and business development. “Researchers of Klaipėda University have been working intensely in carrying out aquaculture experiments, testing new technologies, accumulating experience, and summarising methodologies, because the need for such knowledge has been growing. Both the University and the city of Klaipėda have set the development of the opportunities of blue economy as their strategic goals, and aquaculture is one of them. We hope that, in collaboration with researchers, business will tame it and develop further,” says prof. Razbadauskas.
Concerned about the depletion of natural resources of fish and seafood, mankind has been increasingly focusing on the opportunities offered by aquaculture. There is no doubt that the human menu of the future will be dominated by artificially grown fish products.