Marcela Salazar
Scientific Director
Benchmark Genetics Colombia SAS

MarceIa Salazar is Scientific Director at Benchmark Genetics Colombia SAS. She has been studying the genetics of immune response against viral and bacterial infections in several species, from shrimp to humans for more than 20 years. From 2000 to 2016, she was scientific director at the Center for Acuaculture Research in Colombia CENIACUA, working on the immune response of P. vannamei against viruses using WSSV as a model, and in the selective breeding of P vannamei. In 2016, Marcela joined Benchmark plc as the Scientific Director of Benchmark Genetics Colombia, where she continues her work in shrimp genetics and diseases. She is chair of the Animal Welfare Committee in Benchmark since 2020.

Session 5 Sustainability: Building Consumer Confidence
Presentation Emerging Sustainability Themes In Aquaculture


The global trend towards environmentally sustainable and socially responsible food production has reached the shrimp industry. Consumers, distributors, journalists and legislators, among others, are looking into the social and environmental aspects of shrimp culture, in some cases presenting a negative picture that is not always a true reflection of the reality, and one that does not recognize the progress that has taken place to date.

In contrast with the salmon industry, comprised mainly of large companies, the shrimp world is widely diverse, ranging from big integrated companies exporting millions of dollars a year to small farmers that derive their income from one or two ponds and that do not even have a legal permit for their operations.  That diversity means that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to sustainability challenges and solutions in shrimp production. This creates complexity which can slow down and be a barrier to reach sustainability.

According to the last FAIRR report sustainability issues in aquaculture comprise food safety (antibiotic use, disease, food fraud), environmental issues (biodiversity destruction, effluents and greenhouse emissions) and social aspects (community resistance and working conditions), issues that are aligned with the social developmental goals from the United Nations.

There has been a positive movement towards sustainable shrimp culture amongst the larger producers, with new use of genetically selected breeders, more sustainable feeds, intensive shrimp culture systems, the use of probiotics and traceability protocols among others. However, there is a need to include the small farmers with a tailored approach to be able to reach the sustainability goals for the industry as a whole.

This presentation will analyze the main sustainability issues, from the production hatcheries to the customer, focusing on the historical trends of the indicators and looking forward, on measures that all stakeholders can take to improve shrimp sustainability.  The industry has and is improving but with collective effort of all participants, we can do better.