Summary of opportunities and constraints

1.3.1 Opportunities

A number of factors favour the development of freshwater prawn farming:

• In contrast to most forms of marine shrimp culture, freshwater prawn farming does not require coastal sites, either for hatcheries or grow-out. Coastal hatcheries still exist but are not mandatory. Most hatcheries are now inland, using trucked seawater or brine, or artificial seawater, and often minimising their use by recirculation systems.

• With currently available technology, freshwater prawns cannot be reared in grow-out systems as intensively as marine shrimp. While this has often been regarded as a constraint by investors in the past, it may be an advantage for reasons of sustainability (Chapter 24).

• There is no shortage of egg-carrying females for hatcheries and, if the development of a captive brood-stock is shown to be advisable for stock improvement, mating and spawning can easily be achieved in captivity.

• Freshwater prawn farming is suitable for both large-scale and small-scale commercial rearing units. In addition, it is suitable for very small artisanal production units, which are often a target of government policies designed to favour riverine and other communities in poor regions.

Freshwater prawns are suitable candidates for inclusion in polyculture systems, and in integrated aquaculture-agriculture. There is potential for freshwater prawns to occupy the bottom of countless hectares of tropical and sub-tropical fish ponds around the world, providing an opportunity for fish farmers to increase production and profit with little extra investment and at no cost to the environment.

Export opportunities for freshwater prawns exist. Peeled, mostly wild-caught, M. rosenbergii have long been exported globally but, unlike 30 years ago, shell-on (and often head-on) freshwater prawns are now a familiar sight in the supermarkets of Europe. To a lesser extent, this also occurs in the USA (mainly for consumption by Asians or in restaurants serving Asian food) and Japan. Bangladesh, India and Vietnam already export a significant proportion of their wild-caught and farmed prawns. Potential for expansion exists but producers will need to co-operate in collective marketing to exploit these opportunities. Freshwater prawns are a product that is distinct from marine shrimp, with its own favourable culinary characteristics (Chapter 19). The unique characteristics of the product require further image development.

1.3.2 Constraints

Some real or perceived factors inhibit the development of freshwater prawn farming:

The time that freshwater prawns (M. rosenbergii) spend in the hatchery phase is about twice as long as for marine shrimp. However, the larval cycle of other species (e.g. M. nipponense and M. amazonicum, which are discussed in Chapters 21 and 22) is shorter.

As noted above, freshwater prawns cannot be reared in grow-out systems as intensively as marine shrimp. This has often been regarded as a constraint by investors in the past but it may be an advantage for reasons of sustain-ability (Chapter 24).

In the past, freshwater prawn culture was seen as suitable mainly as a source of products for domestic consumption in countries where it had market familiarity. This contrast to marine shrimp farming, which supplies a well-structured global market, mainly in 'developed' countries, has deterred some investors who seek to maximise

Table 1.5 Total volume and value of all farmed freshwater prawn groups 1998-2007 (derived from FAO 2009).

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