“The future of the shrimp industry in Ecuador looks promising due to its continuous growth”

Skretting Aquaculture lnnovation (AI) Guayas Research Station in Ecuador. Photo: Skretting.
Skretting Aquaculture lnnovation (AI) Guayas Research Station in Ecuador. Photo: Skretting.

The Skretting Aquaculture lnnovation (AI) Guayas Research Station in Ecuador is officially open. It aimed at fast-tracking the shrimp farming industry's introduction of more sustainable and innovative feeds.

It is the latest investment made by one of the world's leading aquaculture feed companies and WeAreAquaculture didn't want to miss the chance to obtain first-hand information from the General Manager of the Station, César Molina.

General Manager of Skretting AI Guayas Research Station, César Molina – Skretting Ecuador

The new EUR 6.1 million facility – a world-class R&D station that is fully dedicated to shrimp farming – allows Skretting to expand its knowledge of shrimp nutrition and health, and to apply this intelligence on the ground in one of the global seafood economy's most important shrimp-producing regions.

César Molina, remembers how this project begin to take shape: The visualization that Ecuador would be the center of shrimp production in the world, led Skretting to carry out the engineering and design studies of the Guayas Research Station in 2019, with an investment of $6.1 million.

For Skretting global, Ecuador represents one of the main operations. For this reason, it has maintained a continuous investment in new production lines, efficiency improvement, distribution centers, technology, and other strategic areas that represent $349 million in investment contracts since 2018.

Skretting AI Guayas Research Station

Skretting AI Guayas Research Station will study all stages of shrimp production. From larvae through to harvest-size animals. In more detail, Molina indicates the research station contains state-of-the-art technology that allows great flexibility in various types of protocols that can work in various salinities, temperatures, and oxygen, among other parameters.

A large number of experimental units and various sizes allow for replicating each treatment and recreating a variety of environments. This great flexibility to study the nutrition and feeding of shrimp in the different conditions in which it is grown.

Experimental units at Skretting AI Guayas Research Station – Skretting Ecuador

Moreover, the center incorporates fully-equipped laboratories that will perform critical trials on white leg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei). Additionally, it houses a battery of tanks that will allow multiple studies to be conducted in conditions that mimic commercial production environments.

Skretting Ecuador is aware that its activities can always be more resilient to disease and environmental challenges. This is the reason why Molina assures the studies in the Station will be focused on simulating optimal conditions in which the species we cultivate develop.

We expose them to extreme conditions to study how certain nutrients or functional molecules can mitigate the stress that it causes for their normal growth and reduce susceptibility to opportunistic pathogens that are in the environment affecting their survival.

The development of the industry in Ecuador

More than 40,000 new people have been employed directly and indirectly in the industry. According to Skretting, this is key to the country's development. Moreover, many of the jobs are for women which makes the industry inclusive. It helps reduce chronic problems such as child nutrition.

Researcher in the laboratory – Skretting Ecuador

Regarding this, the General Manager indicates the future of the industry in Ecuador looks promising due to its continuous growth. Year after year the production has increased annually by an average of 19% in the last 5 years. Until September of this year, the increase in volume was 32% and in dollars 46%.

The continuous improvement in the genetic lines in Ecuador encourages us to develop feeds that cover the new nutritional needs for the development of the industry. Delivering adequate nutrition at the rate the shrimp grows will maximize their genetics. In this way, we will contribute to shortening the production cycle. Thus contributing to increasing the annual production volumes of the sector. Also, that producers can offer larger shrimp in the same period that they have been doing it, he continues.

Finally, Molina encourages the population to keep prawns more into account as a highly nutritious product. The consumption of shrimp is suggested because it is a very rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. This is a very powerful ally against heart-related diseases, along with problems in the cardiovascular system. Further, it contains vitamins such as D necessary in the formation/maintenance of strong teeth and bones.

Shrimp is a very good choice since it has significant levels of carotenes, beta-carotenes, and Pro-vitamin A. All the nutrients mentioned above are related to health. So, its consumption is beneficial as it is a complement to our nutrition, he concludes.

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