Imagine you are enjoying a delightful shrimp dinner at a restaurant. You share with the restaurant staff just how much you are enjoying the meal, and they respond by telling you that the shrimp you are eating is fresh from Southern New Mexico.
That scenario could soon be a reality thanks to research being conducted at New Mexico State University.
A glandless cottonseed meal is being used as a protein source for aquaculture being raised in temperature-controlled tanks at NMSU’s Leyendecker Plant Science Center.
These tanks also fill up a room in a new facility in Mesilla Park. Researchers have taken up new space to make room for the launch of a student ran shrimp company. This new move may produce many possibilities according to Dr. Tracey Carrillo, Assistant Director of Campus Farms Operations at NMSU.
“A very large percentage of our shrimp that come into the country are imported from China, Thailand, and South America. So here is an opportunity to produce locally-grown shrimp straight out of the aquaculture setting on to the dinner plate,” says Dr. Carrillo.
This process of shrimp growing requires daily monitoring, much of which is done by students like Garrett Lee.
“Death loss and excess feed will throw off our nitrogen levels. The Shrimp have antenna, and if the antenna are long it’s a good sign that the shrimp are healthy, but if they are really short it’s a sign that they are stressed,” says Lee.
According to Dr. Carrillo, the growing human population will require more affordable protein sources, and this glandless cotton seed appears to be a more sustainable possibility in replacing fish meal that is currently being used.
“We are harvesting fish from the ocean to feed a fish that then feeds a human. Here we are taking a bi-product of a protein, feeding the fish, and using it for human consumption,” says Carrillo.
There are hopes that a student ran Shrimp Company will launch soon. Followed by orders coming in from around the state and country to receive shrimp grown right here in New Mexico.