Did you ever think that shrimp grown in the desert would be possible? Everybody talks about declining fish stocks but few companies have ventured to grow seafood on dry land, let alone in the Mojave Desert. Blue Oasis Pure Shrimp is setting the bar by becoming the first company to grow shrimp on land with the aim of providing the Las Vegas strip with a continuous supply. The ‘farm’ is located just 30 miles outside of the desert-locked city.
Blue Oasis’ Technology
Traditional shrimp aquaculture systems utilize up to 1.4 pounds of fish meal or oils for each pound of shrimp production, whereas Blue Oasis’s feed conversion ratio is close to 1:1. They also say that their production methods involve a closed loop system with no effluent discharge, sludge removal or flocculation procedure. This apparently allows Blue Oasis to produce product with greatly lessened impact on the outside environment or wild fish stocks.
According to Scott McManus, CEO of Blue Oasis:
“One of the things that makes our technology so unique and so special is our ability to place these plants and facilities anyplace in the United States or the world for that matter. We can put it in the desert. We can literally put it in Siberia”
Las Vegas has an insatiable appetite for shrimp. Most of the all-you-can-eat buffets in town have shrimp on them. Most of the shrimp is frozen and shipped in from Texas. Blue Oasis grows its shrimp for up to 120 days in carefully monitored tanks in an air-conditioned room kept at 80 degrees. The shrimp are fed a mix of algae and seafood proteins up to 12 times a day. These artificial ‘ponds’ are expected to grow half a million pounds of shrimp a year.
Are fish farms on land the next best thing?
60% of the world’s shrimp comes from trawling the oceans. Ironically, according to a NY Magazine article, regulations that are in place to prevent overfishing often cause fishermen to throw back thousands of pounds of dead catch. For example, 4 kgs of bycatch is discarded by Gulf Coast shrimpers for each kilo of shrimp kept.
Ocean based fish farms exist, but they are frequently called out for increasing human health risks and water pollution.
Blue Oasis certainly seems like it’s onto something, considering that 40% of shrimp production is from farming and it has a global market of $9 billion each year. According to McManus, Blue Oasis uses less water than the average home in Las Vegas. The facility is also built with recycled material, energy efficient lighting system. Additionally it uses no chemicals or antibiotics which means it can be certified as organic. Because their target market is so close to their facility, transportation is almost negligible, meaning it may be possible to get ‘locally sourced‘ shrimp in Vegas.
Image Credit: Laurel Fan, Flickr Creative Commons