The Philippines has resumed exports of vannamie, or white shrimp to the United States and China, more than 15 years after a plagued crippled the country’s shrimp industry, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said.
BFAR Director Asis Perez told reporters that the shrimp industry has reopened exports for two months, and expects to increase shipment volume in the coming months to take advantage of the growing demand from international clients.
He said that vannamei growers from General Santos City, Negros, Cebu and Batangas have started with the shipment of some 50 40-foot container, holding 26 metric tons each.
“The shipment is on a monthly basis, with vanamei fetching at least P250 per kilogram,” he said. The BFAR chief said that the agency expects an increase in shipment volume to about 60 containers per month, adding that they want to sustain exports amid strong demand.
“For now, the local supply remains stable. We want to focus on vannamei,” he added.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is implementing a crash program for the local shrimp industry to revive its exporting prowess amid strong global demand.
The local shrimp industry now enjoys a disease-free status and has plenty of rootstock for breeding, placing it in a strategic position.
In April, the BFAR suspended the importation of live shrimp species to protect the local shrimp industry from Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS), a disease prevalent in neighboring countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, China and Indonesia.
EMS, the cause of which is still unknown, is characterized by death during the first 30 days of shrimp lifespan. Infected samples show slow growth, corkscrew swimming and pale coloration.
“We are now reaping the benefits of the imposition of the ban,” said Perez.
On the other hand, Agriculture Secretray Proceso Alcala said that vannamei growers were advised to maintain their current growing practices to prevent a recurrence of the infestation.
“We appealed to vannamei growers not to abuse this so the infestation will not happen again,” he said.
He said that the production of monodon (tiger prawn) is also being strengthened.
“We are concentrating on the vannamei because tiger prawn takes longer to grow, about six to eight months,” he said.
From 1996, overcrowding of tiger shrimp hatcheries in the Philippines resulted in the prevalence of diseases that led to closure of farms.
The government has since then attempted to revive the local shrimp industry with the introduction of white shrimp, and adoption stricter sanitary requirements in hatcheries.