January 24, 2014
Due to early mortality syndrome (EMS) and Vibrio and Aeromonas bacteria, shrimp producers in the northwest of Mexico are expecting high prices and a change of gear in their commercial strategies after witnessing harvests fall by at least 65% last year.
Ahead of the release of official figures, shrimp farming companies in the largest producing regions of Sinaloa, Nayarit and Sonora warned Mexico's 110,000 tonnes of annual shrimp output- some 70% of its total shrimp production -won't be reached again anytime soon.
"Definitely, the sanitary crisis is not going to be effectively fixed this year or the next one, because the experience lived in Asia seems quite telling, in that sense," Francisco Obregon, director at Sonora-based shrimp processor CPC Aqua Proceso, said.
A sales manager at a Mexican shrimp processor said Cargill's estimates might have touched on the conservative side. "It isn't exaggerated to talk of 70% of the harvest being lost, we have often seen much worse cases. The production sold mostly in the domestic market so we could say that exporters have been hit harder," the manager said.
After the national fisheries department Sagarpa had launched an emergency initiative in June last year to control the abnormally high mortalities in shrimp farms, the sector warned that the authorities were not taking enough action. In the Mazatlan zone, over a pond area of 3,000 hectares, mortality rates had spiked to above 70%.
Data research firm Sintropia said in December that Mexico's shrimp exporters should look into "new ways to exploit aquaculture resources". Sardine, shrimp and yellowfin tuna are the top fish categories traded abroad from Mexico.
CPC Aqua Proceso's Obregon said that no doubt prices would stay high as global supply of shrimp is insufficient and this will support the upward trend until production returns to its traditional levels.
This week, the central bank of Honduras revealed that shrimp exports in 2013 generated a US$200 million income for Honduras, noting that Mexico had become one of the three major destinations -with the US and the UK-"due to the impact of an Asian-origin disease".