Genetic improvement is the single most important driver of improvement in agriculture. No other area of production such as nutrition, hatchery management, or farm management can yield the consistent annual improvements that are possible through genetic selection.
On the other hand, the most critical limiting factor in shrimp farming is disease. For this reason, Kona Bay begins with emphasis on animal health. In addition to a Ph.D pathologist on staff, Kona Bay enlists the diagnostic services of an OIE reference laboratory -- the Aquatic Pathology Laboratory of the University of Arizona, USA.
Specific Pathogen Free
Kona Bay broodstock are certified specific pathogen free (SPF), which means they are free of the following list of specific pathogens:
A rigorous surveillance program continuously monitors the health status of stocks at various life stages.
SPF status assures maximum performance and minimum risk of disease introduction and transmission.
In order to establish SPF status, any prospective new genetic lines are introduced into the Kona Bay nucleus breeding center only after rigorous primary and secondary quarantine protocols defined by OIE and verified by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. Stocks are maintained and propagated under the strictest biosecurity conditions.
Kona Bay facilities are uniquely designed for this purpose. They are the only shrimp farming facilities on the island of Kauai, which is separated from other Hawaiian islands by at least 200 km of deep ocean. The seawater supply is naturally filtered from deep wells and is free of pathogens. Strict protocols control the movement of personnel, equipment, and supplies.
To maximize genetic gain with minimal inbreeding, selection is conducted both among and within families.
Kona Bay broodstock are selected for a balance of traits to assure excellent performance under a variety of conditions at the hatchery and farm.
- Growth rate: Average daily gain (ADG) of Kona Bay stocks ranges from 0.3 to 0.7 g, depending on temperature, stocking density, water quality, feeds, and other factors. Growth rate is improving at a rate of approximately 10% per generation.
- Disease resistance: Kona Bay families are routinely exposed to standardized laboratory challenge trials to select for resistance to TSV, WSSV, EMS, and IMNV.
- Reproductive performance: Kona Bay families are selected for high reproductive performance. Performance varies with the use of live polychaete worms (not recommended if harvested from disease affected areas). With live worms in the diet, females produce 400,000 nauplii/spawn with 20% spawning/night. Without live worms, females produce 250,000 nauplii/spawn with 15% spawning/night.
- Dietary soy tolerance: Kona Bay families are routinely selected for tolerance of high levels of dietary soy protein to reduce reliance on scarce supplies of fishmeal.
Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) markers are used both for pedigree and trait identification.
Tank-based growout trials within a nucleus breeding facility may not be an accurate reflection of conditions at commercial farms. It is essential for breeding facilities to conduct growout trials under commercial conditions. For this reason, Kona Bay stocks are tested under a variety of commercial farm conditions:
- Kona Bay genetic lines are tested in a 20-ha state-of-the-art growout farm in Kauai, which is certified SPF. Ponds are 0.4 ha, circular, plastic-lined units with aeration, center drains, and seawater supply from deep wells. Shrimp are typically raised to 30-40 g final size with production rates of 10-15 mt/ha. They are sold under our “Kauai Shrimp” brand to premium markets in the US and Japan.
- Kona Bay collaborates with Blue Archipelago Berhad to conduct field trials with Kona Bay genetic lines at two different farms in Malaysia. Both farms utilize aerated, plastic lined ponds with chlorinated seawater. The older farm has a history of disease incidence, while the newer farm is less affected. Performance at these farms reflects typical disease issues affecting farms throughout Asia.