Date: 04 Feb 2011

The Pacific White Shrimp, Litopenaeus vannamei, in Asia: The World’s Most Widely Cultured Alien Crustacean

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Abstract

The Pacific white shrimp, Litopenaeus vannamei, is native to the western Pacific coast of Latin America, from Peru to Mexico where water temperatures are normally over 20oC throughout the year. It was introduced into Asia experimentally from 1978 to 1979, but commercially only since 1996 into Taiwan and China and subsequently to several countries in southeast and south Asia. In 2008, 67% of the world production of cultured penaeid shrimp (3,399,105 mt) consisted of L. vannamei (2,259,183 mt). Such dominance was attributed to an 18-fold increase of production in Asia, from 93,648 mt in 2001 to 1,823,531 mt in 2008, which accounts for 82% of the total world production of L. vannamei. The commercial success of introducing L. vannamei into Asia can be attributed to its superior aquaculture traits compared with Penaeus monodon, the most popular cultured Asian penaeid. These include higher availability of genetically selected viral-pathogen-free domesticated broodstock, high larval survival, faster growth rate, better tolerance to high stocking density, lower dietary protein requirement, more efficient utilization of plant proteins in formulated diets, stronger adaptability to low salinity, better tolerance to ammonia and nitrite toxicity, and lower susceptibility to serious viral pathogens infecting P. monodon. China leads the world cultured L. vannamei production from 33% in 2001 to 47% in 2008 (1,062,765 mt), among which 51% (542,632 mt) were produced in inland freshwater ponds. The culture of L. vannamei in freshwater is expected to continue increasing in China, Thailand, and other countries in Asia due to higher profits compared to other freshwater aquaculture species, and higher land availability in inland than in coastal areas. Although Taura Syndrome Virus, the most economically significant viral pathogen of L. vannamei is not reported to be detrimental to aquaculture production in Asia nor have affected indigenous cultured or wild shrimp populations, precautionary measures have been advocated or enforced by government authorities and executed by some private sectors. Potential problems that can affect future Asian production of L. vannamei include: decreasing genetic diversity through domestication and selection; increasing trans-boundary movements between continents and within the Far East; and emergence of new and Asian-specific viral and other microbial diseases. These potential problems will require Asian governments to take preventive measures through legislative control as well as scientific and technical measures.