02 Jan 2019
Climate Change and Shrimp Farms – 3 Major Ways Farmers Will Need to Adapt
Written by Zach Stein

Climate Change and Shrimp Farms – 3 Major Ways Farmers Will Need to Adapt

Climate change is here and with the vast majority of shrimp farms being right on the coast, they are even more exposed that most businesses to the negative impacts of climate change. In this post, we will explore some of the ways shrimp farmers can expect climate change to impact their business and some potential ways they and other companies in the industry can work to mitigate.

We based this post on many sources, including this post specific to the current and expected impacts of climate change on tropical regions.

 

Changing Water Temperatures

Ocean temperatures are rising due to climate change and in some ways this is a good thing for shrimp farmers. Up to a point (32º C), warmer water is better for shrimp farms because it correlates with faster growth.

While this will certainly be the case for some farms, some of the time, the danger with changing water temperatures is how they will impact the major ocean currents. Instead of having the same water patterns, just being slightly warmer, the currents are expected to become more unpredictable, meaning it will be more difficult for farmers to plan their businesses accordingly.

Hopefully advanced data models and genetic lines of shrimp that are more resistant to temperature swings emerge.

 

More Extreme Storms

One of the greatest dangers of climate change is how they will turn up the volume on storms. Analysts do not predict a greater number of storms, but that those that do hit, will do so with far more force. This is because they will have more warm ocean water to sit over as they approach land, and they will absorb that much more water and energy.

The biggest dangers here for shrimp farms are:

  • Increased fresh water in the pond
  • Damage to sea and pond walls
  • Damage to on-site infrastructure

As farmers look to mitigate, investing in strengthening all of the farm’s infrastructure to protect against such occurrences will be smart.

 

Ocean Acidification

As the oceans absorb more greenhouse gases, particularly CO2, the pH of the water is lowering and becoming more acidic. Imagine a can of soda with carbonation.

The problem for shrimp farms is that depending on where they intake water, the changes in pH could throw off the microbiology of your farm and mean you have to invest more heavily in treating the water and stabilizing it in reservoirs before exposing it to your animals.

 

Different Pests

We are already seeing this along our coasts and the conditions change, different species are migrating northward and southward in search of better conditions.

The challenge for shrimp farms is that this could mean an exposure to different pests in the seawater they pump in. Mussels, parasites, etc.

This could mean additional treatment of inlet water for shrimp farms and careful management in between pond cycles to ensure that an epidemic of pests does not take root.

 

Changing Rain Patterns

With changing climate comes changing weather patterns. Dry seasons are dryer and wet seasons are wetter. The dryer dry seasons are not as big of a concern for shrimp farms (unless they are freshwater), but the wetter rainy seasons are. Monsoon-like rains can quickly throw off the salinity and thus the entire microbiology of a pond.

To prepare for this, farmers need to be ready to rapidly exchange water on the farm, thus keeping salinity levels high enough for their animals to survive.

 

Lower Ocean Dissolved Oxygen

Finally, the last and maybe biggest problem for shrimp farmers is the impact of climate change on the oceans natural dissolved oxygen levels. With rising sea temperatures, changing water currents, and depleting sea life, ocean dissolved oxygen levels are dropping around the world.

This poses a major problem for shrimp farmers because many of them depend on the natural dissolved oxygen found in their intake water to provide the DO to their animals and ponds.

In preparing to adapt for this eventuality, farmers should invest more heavily in their pumping and aeration capacities to artificially increase oxygen and turn over water more quickly when necessary.

 

Conclusion

Climate change is a scary reality and for shrimp farming, as for every industry, it is important to start facing the truths it will bring and preparing to be climate change resilient.

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