Lithuanians are seeking to acquire the knowledge and technologies that will offer them greater competitiveness in the aquaculture industry and that will effectively employ the country’s existing geothermal resources. For that purpose, an experimental base that has been designed for industrial shrimp farming will start operating in Klaipėda.
The base is expected to produce around 400 kg of crustaceans in four months and will help the operators to accumulate valuable experience, which will then be applied by the companies planning to engage in this still relatively new business in Lithuania.
Cooperation with the University
Klaipėda Science and Technology Park participated in the “InnoAquaTech” project together with some partners from abroad, where it was in charge of the establishment of an experimental base on the premises of Klaipėda University (KU) Business Incubator and for overseeing its activities. The cost of the infrastructure was around 100 thousand euros, which was partly financed from EU funds.
Designed by German specialists, produced in Poland and installed in Klaipėda, the small-scale system will serve as a long-term experimental base. The main objective is to evaluate the biological and ecological conditions for shrimp farming, with the aim of adopting good practices together with the KU scientists. The implementation of the project will open up future possibilities to consult with those willing to invest in this kind of system, to learn more about its design and to evaluate the basic conditions and the key risks.
The Klaipėda base and the equipment contained within it will undoubtedly be of use to the students as well − in addition to visiting the base with their teachers, young academics should also be able to carry out monitoring or certain experiments.
Geothermal resources as the trump card
A major impetus for the creation of such a base was the fact that the Klaipėda region is rich in geothermal sources, and the Klaipėda Science and Technology Park wished to be involved in pursuing the best ways of employing the greatly unused potential of this extremely clean energy source. A large number of discussions were held with scientists to determine what heat-sensitive species would be most suitable for industrial farming using geothermal energy. Shrimp was chosen as a business that would contribute to the creation of high added value.
Analogous closed-cycle systems have been successfully implemented in Germany and are operating in both universities and the private sector. Some shrimp breeding companies have been in existence for 15 years and have been successfully selling this expensive product on the market.
The right competences and targeted marketing could secure a strong position for the shrimp breeding business in Lithuania, through a supply of fresh products to traders and restaurants. The lower production costs of the crustaceans could also allow for sales in foreign markets, as non-frozen shrimp can be transported from Klaipėda to the large cities of Poland and Germany in just 12 hours.
Shipment from the USA
The shrimp are expected to be reared in eight large containers that were filled with water last week. The system requires about six weeks to ‘fire up’, where it’s enriched with various chemical elements in order for the biofilter to start working and an ecosystem to be formed. The temperature of the water for rearing the shrimp will be 28 degrees Celsius.
The closed-type system that has been established on the experimental base uses water-saving techniques and is particularly favourable to the environment. Most shrimp are reared in Southern Asia, which results in an ecological catastrophe. Royal Shrimp are reared in ponds dug in jungle clearings, and once they are abandoned these areas are left in a deserted state for years until the natural ecosystem is restored.
Around 2 thousand crustacean larvae will be brought to Klaipėda from Florida, from a local species that has no pathogens (biological factors causing disease – pathogens may take the form of bacteria, viruses, etc.). Importing the shrimp from Asia would have been risky, as that region was struck by diseases in 1980–1990 that resulted in vast amounts of shrimp dying on the farms. The larvae will first be brought to Frankfurt in plastic bags where they will be inspected by veterinary services, and then transported to Palanga.
Shrimp reared in individual containers can reach their required size in 3 to 4 months. Although the ‘harvest’ from the KU Business Incubator will not be for sale, we hope that a way will be found to treat the citizens of the city to the first shrimp.