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January 2011 Commodity news and trends


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Prices for shrimp, the world's number one traded fish, failed to join in the 2011 upswing in world commodity prices, in contrast with prices for other fish, such as salmon.

The fast growth and short life cycle for shrimp, up to three harvests per year in tropical areas, allow rapid supply response to short-run increases in demand. In tropical areas, there is plenty of room for improvement in shrimp-farm yields by moving from low-technology extensive farm methods to higher-tech intensive farming.

2010 and 2011 have been marked by developments in American markets. The impact of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on American shrimpers culminated in the American decision (International Trade Commission) in March 2011 to extend for another five years the anti-dumping duties, targeted at aqua-culture-based producers in the tropical areas of Brazil, China, India, Thailand and Vietnam. These duties were first imposed in February 2005, at that time reversing a multi-year decline in prices.

For shrimp, the farm/live catch ratio is around 40/60, with explosive growth in farmed shrimp beginning in the early 1990s onward due to surging demand for seafood in developed countries which first began in the early 1970s.

Shrimp can be farmed in colder waters, and are harvested by commercial fishers throughout the world (although often caught shrimp are discarded by fishers who are targeting other species). But the highly-prized larger shrimp sizes thrived on the warmth and plentiful food supply found in tropical areas.

Shrimp farms in coastal tropical areas compete for other land uses, including palm trees (palm oil/biodiesel) and rice. A concern is that movement back to fresh water agricultural uses after saltwater-based shrimp farming can require five years.



Focus in this issue: Shrimp farming in China Archives
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