A visit to China’s shrimp farming region December 28th to January 23rd intended as an introductory tour for Sea Product Development (SPD) proved an unexpected “welcome home” surprise reception.
Stephen White, chief operating officer of the Global Blue Technology’s (GBT) family of businesses including SPD and Eduardo Figueras, SPD chief geneticist and head of GBT production, traveled to China ostensibly to help position Texas-based SPD genetics development center as a potential source to supply China’s major shrimp hatcheries with quality broodstock. Mr. White is also President of Sustainable Sea Products International (SSPI), the marketing and distribution for the GBT companies.
That simple exploratory “meet and greet” event proved to be much more.
Six years earlier, Mr. Figueras spent four months in China working with a remote hatchery. There he befriended the hatchery staff of young talented and then recently graduated marine biologists. He quickly became a teacher and mentor. His enthusiasm to freely impart decades of knowledge creating, running and trouble shooting hatcheries left a very favorable and apparently lasting impression.
The anticipation of the visit forced the venue at the Zhanjiang Sheraton hotel where the meetings were scheduled to make three room upgrades to accommodate the number of Chinese hatchery officials eager to hear SPD’s message. As Mr. Figueras and Mr. White entered the room, they were shocked that a majority of key hatchery officials are the former young biologists Mr. Figueras mentored six years previously.
The message conveyed was less a sales pitch for Sea Products Development products as a sincere request to learn what Chinese hatcheries want and need and determine how SPD could meet those needs.
The open discussion led to the conclusion by everyone involved that China’s shrimp aquaculture industry is facing a number of issues that must be addressed and overcome. Providing quality broodstock is important but the most immediate need is for a mutually agreed upon joint strategic plan to provide on-going technical assistance. Ensuring that hatchery conditions are optimum for bio-security, disease avoidance and healthy husbandry techniques are not only important for the success of China’s shrimp farms but also key to preserving the reputation of SPD and the broodstock it hopes to provide.
SPD’s representatives pledged a dedicated effort to assist in resolving the challenges facing Chinese hatcheries and to tailor SPD brood animals to conditions favorable to providing more consistent and productive results for Chinese shrimp farms.
The SPD team visited a number of hatcheries during their stay. They gathered information on current problems in shrimp farm husbandry and health and promised to revisit each with suggestions for solutions in the near future.