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Eco-shrimps protect mangroves and social standards

Whilst conventional prawn farming is detrimental to nature and mankind, prawns from ecologically run aquacultures are a top-quality delicacy farmed in harmony with nature.

King prawns are enjoying increasing popularity world-wide. They are delicious and a protein-packed alternative in our diet. However from an ecological perspective and in terms of health, they should be consumed with caution, since the farming process can be problematic.

Ecocide and the use of antibiotics are often associated with the production of prawns, even if the situation in conventional prawn farming has already slightly improved. Although prawns certified as organic are admittedly more expensive, they are environmentally friendly, free of drugs and taste far better.

Within BioHatch, a research project coordinated by ttz Bremerhaven, a research service provider, work is being undertaken to give this better product better competitiveness too. The objective of the project, which is co-financed by Germany's Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, is the technical development, planning and construction of a pilot plant for the efficient and ecological farming of king prawns in Bangladesh.

The focus of BioHatch lies in the complex breeding of the larvae. The problem here is that the larvae do not grow up in brackish water like their older siblings, but instead require pure seawater during the first phase of their life. The two types of water are however generally a long distance apart. In order to find a solution to this complicated situation, ttz Bremerhaven, WAB Trading International GmbH, and the Gesellschaft für Marine Aquakultur (GMA) mbH are working closely together on the BioHatch project. In the framework of three sub-projects, individual components for a larvae hatchery are being developed: a customised salt water supply on the basis of electrodialysis and photovoltaics (ttz Bremerhaven), water treatment via biofiltration (WAB), and sustainable induction of spawning and egg maturation through light and temperature protocols (GMA). After the integration of these three individual components in the target region of Kaliganj, Bangladesh, the aim is for the new technology to be further developed to production scale and then marketed.

BioHatch aims to unite the strictest organic and social standards, for example such as those of "Naturland", with the highest possible level of profitability, since the weak point of organic prawns is their far higher retail price. However, if the price of the damage to nature and mankind were to be included when calculating the price for conventional production, then the sustainably produced goods would be far cheaper. Greenpeace and the WWF have also pointed to the clearing of ecologically important mangrove forests and water polluted from the use of antibiotics, as well as to chemical residues in many conventionally farmed prawns. For the consumer, "enjoyment without remorse" is becoming increasingly important, which is why this criticism is being taken very seriously by industry and politics.

One of the BioHatch partners, WAB Trading International GmbH, is already running the "Organic Shrimp Project" in Bangladesh, within which organic king prawns certified by Naturland are farmed and which are explicitly recommended in the Greenpeace Fish Guide. As a result of the new EU regulation No. 834/2007, the production of larvae in accordance with EU criteria for the organic production and labelling of organic products is obligatory from 2011 onwards. At present, no technology exists world-wide with which the larvae can be produced in an ecological way. An innovative process which complies to the new regulations must therefore be developed at a cost which is comparable to that of conventional methods. BioHatch was launched in February and is a two-year project co-financed by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology under ZIM (Central Innovation Programme).

ttz Bremerhaven regards itself as an innovative provider of research services and operates in the field of application-oriented research and development. Under the umbrella of ttz Bremerhaven, an international team of experts is working in the areas of food, environment, health and consulting services.

Christian Colmer
Head of Communication and Media
ttz Bremerhaven
Fischkai 1
D-27572 Bremerhaven (Germany)
Phone: +49 (0)471 48 32 -124
Fax: +49 (0)471 48 32 - 129

Christian Colmer | idw
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