Can genetically-improved shrimp handle Indonesia’s disease challenges?

two shrimp
Genetics becomes one of three strategies – along with environmental improvement and mechanization – that can boost shrimp productivity.

© American Penaeid

Shrimp farming areas in Indonesia can be classified into three levels, based on their ecological quality and disease status. Experts have different terms to describe them, but – quite simply – they can be divided into green, red and yellow areas. Green areas are those areas that are still ideal for agriculture, with fewer environmental and disease issues. Red zones are those areas where environmental conditions make farming more difficult due to a higher risk of disease. Meanwhile, the yellow areas are those with intermediate disease risk status.

Despite suggestions to introduce such a classification, there are currently no standard criteria for determining disease status in an area and many people believe that the government or shrimp societies need to make this designation. Farmers also need to know this division in order to implement proper culture practices – not least so that they can purchase shrimp seeds with the right level of disease resistance.

Aerial view of shrimp ponds
At present, there are no standard criteria for determining disease status in the shrimp farming area

© Alon

Survival and balanced genetics

An astonishing statement came from Barry Amru, the Indonesian representative of Penaeid Inc (API) at the recent BincangUdang (ShrimpTalk) webinar series held by the Indonesian Shrimp Forum (Forum Udang Indonesia/FUI), the Indonesian Shrimp Hatchery Communication Forum (Komunikasi Pembenih Udang Indonesia Forum/ FKPUI) and Minneapolis. He said the growth rate of the best genetic strains of shrimp is now two to three times faster than it was 30 years ago. However, at the same time, the survival rate decreased by two to three times as well.

Using genetics to improve growth rates is optimal if the pond and environment are still in perfect condition and have had fewer historical disease outbreaks. However, in reality, disease has become such a major issue in shrimp farming that breeding programs must also focus on disease resistance and the shrimp’s ability to survive in challenging environmental conditions – not just growth rates.

researcher with test tubes
Survival genetics is a new concern for spawning flock producers after a long focus on improving rapid growth.

© American Penaeid

Amr suspects that pathogens are like bacteria Vibraio Paramoleticos, which causes AHPND, has been present naturally in shrimp ponds for a long time. However, it is believed that it did not begin to pose a threat to shrimp until after they were genetically selected primarily for their growth rates.

American Penaeid, which is experienced in commercial production and spawning flock production, first entered the Indonesian market in July 2020. Since then they have developed a strain of shrimp mothers that supposedly have a higher survival rate, and they have been called the Komodo line. Amr claims that API-produced mothers have a survival rate of 20 percent above average and a growth rate of 80 percent above average. This has a survival rate similar to shrimp in the wild, and a nocturnal characteristic that can affect feeding time management.

In addition to the API, Kona Bay Indonesia, Benchmark Genetics and SyAqua are developing maternal strains with superior survival traits. These include Kona Bay Strength, BMK Protect from Benchmark, and AHPND/EMS Resistant Spawning Flock from SyAqua. SyAqua has also created a flock of well-balanced broodstock to accommodate moderate environmental conditions and a history of disease.

Aquaculture technician prepares shrimp biomass
Shrimp farmers should consider potential trade-offs when exploring genetic improvements

Teddy Peter, production manager at the Maternal Breeding Center in Kona Bay Indonesia, said that like other animals, shrimp also have limitations to absorb all the genetic advantages. So the choice now is to either modify all the genes or pick the best ones. Relying on one means reducing the other benefits to less than optimal level.

One of the keys to sustainability

The genetic lines selected for survival have become a necessity for farmers to deal with disease and keep production at a good level. In addition to maintaining farm productivity, it is also necessary to increase national production and maintain the sustainability of the shrimp farming industry.

A study of the history of shrimp farming in recent decades has shown a pattern of new pond lands being opened, while many ponds are rested or abandoned due to persistent disease problems. This is one of the factors that has led to the fact that national production levels have not increased significantly, despite the establishment of many new ponds. However, it is believed that shrimp with high survival qualities could make farming in many of these abandoned ponds possible again.

fire group
Hasanuddin Atjo (second from left) with American team Penaeid Barry Amr (right) at Atjo Pond in Central Sulawesi

© Barry Amro

Hasanuddin Atjo, an Indonesian shrimp breeding expert, agrees on the importance of shrimp genetics. According to him, genetics is one of the three strategies – along with environmental improvement and mechanization – implemented by India and Ecuador to enhance shrimp productivity, and this strategy can also be implemented in Indonesia.

“Genetics is the main key to the success of aquaculture, especially the Latin American Vanami shrimp which currently dominates nearly 80 percent of the world’s shrimp production, displacing tiger prawns and other shrimp species,” he says.

He adds that there are already Breeding Centers (BMCs) in Ecuador, India and Vietnam playing a role in increasing future spawning flocks imported from NBCs in Hawaii and Florida, through a business-to-business partnership. Mothers raised in BMCs have two features, including a state of no pathogens (SPF) and a state of pathogen resistance (SPR), which means that they will be resistant to certain diseases, environmental conditions, such as white stool disease (WFD) or low levels from salinity.

indonesia shrimp harvest
Improving shrimp genetics may make abandoned pond culture possible

This trend means that farmers should be able to select the fry that were bred to be adapted to the characteristics of their farm. If this trend is to be followed in Indonesia, breeders should have a strong market, as the country is trying to increase its production by 250 percent and currently has a market for 40 billion post-larvae (PLs) annually.

Good nutrition and environment can enhance genetic performance

Genetic improvement is one thing, but performance of shrimp in the hatchery and pond is another. Best farm performance should be supported by good nutrition and biosecurity, as well as the use of appropriate genes. According to Purnomo Hadi, production manager at SyAqua Indonesia, nutrition and environmental biosecurity programs are vital factors, as these are the first external factors that shrimp reach. He says his farm partners in Vietnam and China who have implemented good nutrition and biosecurity programs in hatcheries are getting above-average results.

In addition to providing safety for shrimp, biosecurity also provides less stressful conditions, which means that shrimp feed more freely – at rates up to 40-50 percent of shrimp biomass – affecting rapid growth and biomass production.

In Indonesia, the average feeding program is only about 20-40 percent of biomass, which may be due to not maximizing biosecurity, because many farms are still feeding shrimp to fresh seaworms (Polychaeta), which have the potential to transmit pathogens. diseases.

In order to ensure optimum shrimp performance, the Secretary General of FKPUI, Waiso said it would be better if all the mother producers could provide best practices for each of their line of breeds, for both hatcheries and broilers. He argues that each breed of shrimp must be treated differently, to ensure hatchery operators and farmers can produce optimally.

white legged shrimp
Comments and other disclosures of information from all stakeholders will help improve shrimp aquaculture

In the end, although genetic improvement is the work of the mother companies, the source of its improvement is actually feedback from hatcheries and farmers. Comments and other disclosures of information from all stakeholders are important to improving the industry as a whole.

Minapoli is an integrated B2B digital aquaculture marketplace in Indonesia

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