Semi-intensive pond farming

The majority of Peruvian shrimp farmers use semi-intensive farming methods and take up an area of around 6,500 hectares. In 2015, total production reached 22,000 tonnes of which 17,000 tonnes was exported. Due to the limited possibilities of expansion, as a result of spatial, environmental and climate reasons, it seems that the limit of semi-intensive production has been reached. Shrimp farming in the Tumbes district covers an covers about 6,000 hectares. Some important companies in this area are Atisa Perú and Marinazul. More to the south in the Piura district, shrimp farming covers about 500 hectares and houses companies like Eco-Acuicola S.A.C. (Ecosac).

Key features
Average stocking density

15-18 PL/m2

Average productivity

1,300-1,500 kg/ha/year

# of crops per year

3-4 in Tumbes and  1 in Piura

# of days per crop

About 100 days

Harvesting season

All year round in Tumbes,  February- April in Piura

Type of farmer

Small-scale farmers to big-scale corporate farms

Potential risks
  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Water pollution
  • Entry of diseases
  • Salinization

Type of farmers

The majority of shrimp farmers are located in the northern part of Peru, in the province of Tumbes, close to the Ecuadorian border. Some farming takes place about 400 kilometers more to the south, in Piura, but here the climate gets colder and are thus less possibilities for year-round harvests. In Peru there are 2 bigger scale farmers with more than 150 hectares, 20 medium scale farmers with more than 100 hectares and about 50 smaller farmers with less than 100 hectares. For export purposes, it is advised to focus on the medium and larger scale farmers. Especially the company Camposol/Marinazul has a large share in shrimp export. There are no direct associations between farmers, as confidence and mutual reliability in Peru is very difficult. However, due to the limited amount of production plants, a lot of smaller and even medium size farmers process their shrimp in the plants of the bigger farmers and in some public facilities. Consequently, these bigger companies and public plants try to maintain stable their relations with the smaller farmers.

Production and harvesting system

Peruvian shrimp farmers use monoculture. Sometimes they have some tilapia or paiche in separated small ponds, but these are not for export purposes. In the Tumbes area, the farmers use sea water. At high tide, water is filtered and led into the pond and at low tide the water is discharged. Some companies like Atisa Perú have GlobalG.A.P. certification, which ensures sound water management. In Piura, they use sweet water from the Piura river. The water is being renewed continuously and during the production phase farmers use aeration and probiotics.

In Tumbes, the farmers aim to reach HOSO sizes of 50-60 and 60-70, although even smaller sizes are quite common. It takes about 100 days to reach 50-60 by which Tumbes’ farmers can 3-4 times per pond per year. Farmers here can harvest all year round, normally once per month according to the new and full moon cycle. In Piura, farmers only harvest once a year and the harvesting season is from late January to early May. Farmers are obliged to harvest everything these months and stock products for the rest of the year. With only one harvest per year, companies like Eco-Acuicola S.A.C. (Ecosac) try to reach bigger HOSO sizes of 30-40, especially for tails and PUD/PD which they stock for year-round sales.  They prefer to make yearly contracts with importers as repacking and even reproducing increases costs and quality risks. Consequently, it might be possible that, in September or October, stocks have been sold out entirely and one has to wait until next season. In both regions harvest entails emptying the pond and forcing the shrimp to go to a gate, at which they are trapped at the end. The shrimp are caught by hand in plastic cubes and put in a big plastic container with water and ice. After harvesting, the pond is emptied, cleaned, disinfected and filled again. This process takes about one week.

Target species and byproducts

All farmed shrimp in Peru is the Litopenaeus vannamei (whiteleg shrimp) with no byproducts.

Stocking densities and productivity

Normally, stocking is done manually, although some companies use an aired tube system. With the semi-intensive system, farmers use a density of about 15-18 a PL/m2 which translates into an annual production of 1,300 to 1,500 kg per hectare. During the actual tests for intensive farming, stocking density is about 200-300 PL/m2 trying to reach even 20,ooo to 30,000 kg per hectare per year. In Tumbes, the stocking, harvesting and trading are done year-round, while in Piura they stock in October and November and harvest February – April.

Use of seed, feed and other inputs

Until now, in Peru there are no reliable hatcheries or laboratories for reproduction. In Peru, not even the big volume exporters like Marinazul / Camposol have their own hatcheries. All larvae are being imported from Ecuador, which offers good quality larvae with possible ASC and/or GlobalG.A.P. certifications. Only the bigger companies have incubators in which they grow the larvae from about 400 pz/gr to about 6-8 pz/gr during the first weeks. From there, they transfer the small shrimps to the grow-out ponds. In this way, survival rate reaches 50-70%. If seeded directly from larvae to final grow-out pond, the rate lowers to 30-50%.

During farming, the shrimp are fed pellets composed of fish meal, grains etc., from national feed companies like Aquatech and Nicovita and international suppliers like Purina. Some companies use a fixed feeding mechanism (a floating stone with a net beneath it in which the farmer deposit the feed) while others just throw the feed by hand. Feed conversion ratio is around 1,300-1,500 kg per 1,000 kg of shrimp. Probiotics are used during all stages.


The Tumbes area has a stable climate, and shrimp are stocked and harvested here all year round. In Piura the climate is much colder. Here, the ponds are stocked in October and harvest takes place from February to April, depending on climate conditions. However, some years it is necessary to harvest everything already in February at 50-60 HOSO size and smaller because of lack of water.