Graham Sustainability Institute

Development of Sustainable Shrimp Aquaculture

Aquaculture pens. Photo by Todd Marsee, Michigan Sea Grant

U-M Investigators

James Diana – School for Environment and Sustainability
Jonathan Bulkley – School for Environment and Sustainability
Greg Keoleian – School for Environment and Sustainability
Aurielo Briones – School for Environment and Sustainability
Lutgarde Raskin – College of Engineering
Steven Skerlos – College of Engineering

Project Summary

Aquaculture is a dominant means of producing seafood today, and it is important to understand and reduce the industry’s potential environmental impacts in order to produce sustainable aquaculture harvests. There are two main types of aquaculture systems suitable for adoption in the United States, each with associated costs and benefits.  

To be feasible in Michigan, shrimp aquaculture requires a greenhouse or other indoor system with heating and temperature control, salt water prepared by adding salt or by using local brackish water sources, and water treatment to allow recycling of the water. The energy and material costs of such a system may exceed those of outdoor production facilities in warmer areas with ready access to salt water; however, other costs, for example transportation costs to urban markets in Detroit and Chicago, may be reduced.

A collaborative research team completed a comprehensive financial, energy, and material analyses over a production cycle in order to assess and evaluate the sustainability and environmental impacts of an indoor shrimp aquaculture system.  In this work, the team:

  • Performed life cycle analysis (LCA) and life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) for two shrimp aquaculture systems, with emphasis on comparing an outdoor, flushed pond system and a zero-exchange, recirculating indoor system
  • Developed mass balance models of the two shrimp aquaculture systems to evaluate methods for improving the economics and reducing the environmental impacts of them
  • Collected microbial, chemical, and other data from the indoor system to understand its long-term sustainability of water quality
  • Built a lab-scale aquaculture system to experimentally evaluate systems using principles of life cycle design

This project received a $198,316 Environmental Sustainablity Multidisciplinary Research Team Proposal Grant in 2007.