Photo: Snowpea & bokchoi via Flickr/CC BY
In order to help meet Las Vegas vacationers' voracious demand for shrimp in a more 'sustainable' manner, one company has set up an elaborate aquaculture farm to raise shrimp in shipping containers in the middle of the Mohave desert. The company Blue Oasis Pure Shrimp is harvesting a half million pounds of shrimp annually from its intriguing operation.The AP reports:
In an arid field of Joshua trees and desert brush 30 miles from the Las Vegas Strip, an isolated farm is raising thousands of recently hatched shrimp in salt-water tanks filled from a nearby well.The artificial ponds splayed across a temperature-controlled room are expected to grow half a million pounds of shrimp a year, enough to fuel Las Vegas' insatiable all-you-can-eat-shrimp habit for about a week, according to some estimates.The company is touting itself as a "sustainable alternative to wild-caught and farm-raised shrimp that can threaten surrounding ecosystems."
"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," said Scott McManus, CEO of Blue Oasis Pure Shrimp. "We can put it in the desert. We can literally put it in Siberia."
But little is said about how much energy and water is required to run an operation whose chief aim is to provide "high-end" seafood to luxury hotels and restaurants.
The AP explains how "Blue Oasis raises 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. McManus said it's the largest facility of its kind in the United States."
Clearly, there are a lot of questions: Is air conditioning and diverting water to a giant shrimp farm in the desert the best use of our resources? Is this scheme viable enough to become a serious competitor to unsustainably-obtained shrimp -- after all, if we were somehow able to get all of our shrimp from giant shipping container farms, it would indeed diminish the worldwide impact of trawling, netting, and fishing. Of course, nothing would be as preferable as, you know, eating less shrimp altogether -- but that's just crazy talk in the face of consumer capitalism, right?
Or, is this yet another signal that we should just welcome our efficient, indoor-food-producing overlords and await the day when everything we eat is harvested by robots?
More on Sustainable Seafood
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Wal-Mart to Sell " Sustainable Shrimp "