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Title: Ecology and potential economic importance of shrimp of the genus Acetes in the Caribbean
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00096168/00001
 Material Information
Title: Ecology and potential economic importance of shrimp of the genus Acetes in the Caribbean
Physical Description: 15 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Canoy, M. J
Donor: unknown ( endowment ) ( endowment )
Publisher: Caribbean Research Institute
Place of Publication: St. Thomas, USVI
Publication Date: 1980
Copyright Date: 1980
Subject: Acetes   ( lcsh )
Shrimps -- Virgin Islands of the United States   ( lcsh )
Shrimp industry -- Virgin Islands of the United States   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States Virgin Islands
General Note: Cover title.
General Note: "Special report, Ecological Research Center, Caribbean Research Institute, College of the Virgin Islands"
General Note: "July 15, 1980"
Statement of Responsibility: by M.J. Canoy.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00096168
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Holding Location: University of the Virgin Islands
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 24703680


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    Title Page
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        Page 1
        Page 2
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        Page 4
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Full Text








JULY 15, 1980




Acetes amerlcanus



During the period 1972-75 five specimens of the planktonic

shrimp Acetes were collected near Puerto Rico. Collection was

incidental to other efforts and raises the question of a poten-

tial fishery with proper exploration.

The species of the genus Acetes are small planktonic shrimp

living mainly in the estuaries and coastal waters of the tropical

and subtropical regions. Fourteen species and five subspecies

are recognized. Ten species are distributed in the Indo-West

Pacific, and the Indo-Malayan region is particularly rich in

species. One species is restricted to Pacific America and two

species are found in Atlantic America and the Caribbean. No

species are known either from East Atlantic-Mediterranean or

from the islands of the Central Pacific. Available information

on geographic distribution is summarized for each species.

Specific relationships, biogeography, fishery and economic

potential for the Caribbean are discussed.

Acetes affords a major source of protein to some of the

people in Asia and East Africa. Present status of the Acetes

fishery in various countries is reviewed. The shrimp is mainly

fished with various kinds of push nets and bag nets set near the

shore against the flow of the tide. Boat seines and shore seines

are used, too. The average world catch is estimated at 170,000

metric tons per year or about one-half the potential sustained

yield. It accounts for 26% of the total shrimp catch in the

Indo-West Pacific and 15% of that of the world. Only a very

small proportion of the catch is sold as fresh shrimp, but the

greater proportion is dried, salted or fermented with salt for

food in various ways. A shrimp paste is manufactured exten-

sively throughout Southeast Asia. The products represent a high

quality protein supplement.

The fishery is characterized by a restricted fishing season

during the year and the catch fluctuates considerably. The fish-

ing season corresponds with the swarming season in the area where

the Acetes fishery is carried out. During the season local

catches may exceed a ton a day with small boats.

The Caribbean and South Atlantic fishery is estimated, on

the basis of area of suitable habitat, at about one-third that of

the world fishery or 60,000 metric tons. With a dock-side price

of 40 per kilogram as a lower limit, the fishery value would run

$24,000,000 per season. The parameters of the fishery potential

and the need for further information are discussed.



Ten of 14 existing species in the genus Acetes are found

in the Indo-West Pacific, and the Indo-Malay archipelago region

is particularly rich in species. The latitudinal range is be-

tween 41ON and 34 S. Acetes chinensis occurs as far northward

as Po Hai (Gulf of Chihli), China, whereas A. sibogae australis

is distributed along the coast of New South Wales, Australia.

No species have yet been recorded from New Guinea and the

Persian Gulf areas, but this may be largely due to the lack of

survey. Three species, A.americanus, A. marinus, and A. parag-

uayensis, are restricted to Atlantic America, the last species

occurring in fresh water. The latitudinal range in the Atlantic

is between 35 N (A. a. carolinae)and 32 S (A.a. americanus). In

Pacific America A. binghami is recorded from the Gulf of Panama

and the Gulf of Guayaquil. No species are known either from

East Atlantic-Mediterranean or from the islands of the Central

Pacific including Hawaii and New Zealand.

FLEMINGER and HULSEMANN (1973) state that epiplanktonic

copepods occurring in the lower equatorial latitudes, i.e.

species with their breeding range restricted to lower latitudes

between the equator and 20-30north and south, tend to show

regional provincialisms. A similar tendency emerges from the

distribution of Acetes whose northern and southern limits fall

roughly between the 300 parallels. All species of Acetes are

restricted to either Atlantic, Indo-West Pacific, or the eastern

tropical Pacific Ocean. In addition to continental barriers to

the spread of the species, the coastal habitats favored by Acetes

may be equally or even more significant in isolating populations

and in producing short-range species and subspecies.

Morphological characters of the species of the genus Acetes

indicate that all present species were derived from two common

precursors. One gave rise to the erythraeus group and the other

produced the japonicus group. Probably the precursor of the

erythraeus group was associated primarily with equatorial (trop-

ical) waters and that of the japonicus group with tropical-sub-

tropical (tropical-warm temperate) waters. It is considered

that the two precursors were distributed widely in the Tethys

Sea, both in the Indo-European province and American province,

during the Eocene and Oligocene. Because of the late tertiary

climatic deterioration, however, these precursors disappeared

from East Atlantic-Mediterranean. The formation of the land-

bridge between Asia and Africa also divided their habitat into

two regions, namely Atlantic-East Pacific and Indo-West Pacific

(UMBGROVE, 1930). After that they developed gradually on

different lines in the two separate regions.

The climatic change after middle of Miocene took place on the

American side, though it was not so catastrophic for the tropi-

cal fauna (EKMAN, 1953: 71). However, it might have caused

immigration of tropical-subtropical species (the Americanus

subgroup) to the lower equatorial latitudes, and forced the

equatorial species (the paraguayensis subgroup) to take refuge


o Acetes Species

Distribution records for Acees species
in the new world.
in the new world.

Figure 1.

in rivers and estuaries of central and northeastern South

America. Acetes paraguayensis in the Parana basin could have

been introduced directly from the upper region of the Amazon

basin without passing through the sea.

The fact that A. binghami shows stronger morphological

affinity to A. Americanus indicates that they must have been

recently derived from a single subtropical precursor. JORDAN

(1908) introduced the term geminatee species" or "twin species"

for amphi-American species having a common ancestor. Until

Pliocene the Pacific had a direct connection with the Atlantic

across the present Central America. Presumably, simultaneous

development of A. americanus and A. binghami occurred after

formation of the Panama Isthmus.

Attention has often been called to the faunistic resemblance

between the Indo-West Pacific and Atlantic America and the

faunal richness of the Indo-Malayan region, as demonstrated in

Acetes, as well as various other common families and genera

such as the decapod shrimp genus Lucifer, the squid genus Sppio-

teuthis and the eel genus Anguilla. The faunal richness of the

Indo-Malayan region is sometimes explained by the assumption

that this region is a center for the generation of marine organ-

isms. However, EKMAN (1953:79) notes that the explanation is

rather that, in contrast to the Atlantic, the Indo-Malayan

region has been able to preserve this inherited richness until

the present time, and that in addition new forms have been

able to develop continuously.

Acetes is a typical neritic, epipelagic shrimp and it is

common in estuaries and backwaters where fresh water from the

land greatly influences the situation. It can withstand a

great change of salinity. For instance, adults of A. erythraeus

are found in water where the salinity fluctuates seasonally be-

tween 1.5 and 35.00/00 (LE RESTE, 1970). Other common environ-

mental features correlated with appearance of the species are:

1) the sea is shallow for a great distance from the shore;

2) the area is separated from the open ocean by a peninsula,

submarine sills or numerous islands; 3) the tidal range is con-

siderable; 4) the bottom is covered with mud or sandy-mud.

Acetes is generally distributed in depths shallower than 50m;

swarming and gregariousness are usually found from the surface

to a depth of 20m. The swimming activity of the shrimp becomes

highest at night. In the shallow area of the Seto Inland Sea

(10-20m in depth), A.japonicus often intimately associates with

the bottom during daytime, but in Toyama Bay where the bottom

slope is very steep, the species aggregates at depths of 40-90.

It is probable that Acetes produce a steady emission of

greenish-blue light. Fishermen in various localities always

point out the occurrence of massive blue-green glows from

swarms of Acetes. No instrumental method has yet been devel-

oped for swarm location based on the glow.


Catches of pelagic crustaceans like sergestids, galatheids,

euphausiids, and mysids are not recorded in the FAO's "Yearbook

of Fishery Statistics" as a result of the lack of statistical

data on these fisheries. Therefore, it would be worthwhile to

estimate the amount of commercial catches of Acetes at present

and to evaluate the potential of Acetes as a fishery resource.

Approximate average annual catches of Acetes and their propor-

tions to the catches of total shrimps in seven Asian countries

are summarized in Figure 2. The catches of Acetes in the table

total 130,000 tons, but these records must be considered as

minimal because reliable statistics are only available for a

few of the larger markets. Although data is not complete as

yet, Acetes certainly supports a subsistence fishery of consid-

erable importance in North Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philip-

pines, North Viet Nam, Cambodia, Burma, Singapore, and indonesia.

It is probably fished in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Catches from Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Madagascar may

not be ignored. In South America, a small amount of A.amerigan-

us is consumed in Surinam and French Guiana (HOLTHUIS, 1959).

I would judge the Acetes harvest from areas not reporting region-

al fishery statistics to exceed 40,000 tons per year. Therefore,

the world catch of Acetes is estimated to be at least 170,000

tons per year.


Figure 2

Approximate Recent Annual Catches of Acetes and Their Contri-
bution to the Shrimp Fishery in Seven Asian Countries

Total Other ** Acetes Acetes
Country Year Acetes Shrimps*Crusts. to ttl. to ttl;
(tons) (tons) (tons) Shmps.% Crust.%

China 1955 71000 --- ---- --

South Korea 1965-68 10700 13700 3900 78.1 60.8

Japan 1968-72 800 57700 92300 1.4 0.9

South Viet Nam 1972 10000 54300 19.4

Thailand 1968-72 13600 75000 35700 18.1 12.2

Malaysia (West) 1970-72 9400 52200 2000 18.0 17.3

India 1959-68 14500 81700 3000 17.7 17.3


**Panulirus, Portunus, Scylla, Paralithodes, etc.

The annual catch of total shrimps (Natantia) excluding

planktonic forms reached about 474,000 tons in 1970 in the Indo-

West Pacific; it was 930,000 tons in the world (FAO, 1971). If

the present estimate is correct, Acetes accounts for 26% of the

total shrimp catch in the Indo-West Pacific and 15% of that in

the world. Furthermore, Acetes probably exists in potentially

exploitable quantities in other areas but is not fished due to

lack of appropriate method of food processing, the richness of

other fishery resources, and/or the small size of the local


The life span of Acetes is less than 3-10 months and the

adult dies soon after spawning. Thus, the adults represent an

emphemeral stock with very rapid turnover, new individuals being

consistently recruited from the nearby waters. Since planktonic

shrimps such as Acetes, Peisos, and Lucifer often occupy a key

trophic level in neritic communities (OLIVIER et al., 1968;

AMORI, 1974), the exploitation should be carefully managed so

that it is not excessive and does not unbalance the food web.

However, it seems reasonable to conjecture that a potential world

fishery of 50,000-100,000 metric tons of Acetes would not be

excessive. The potential New World fishery probably does not

equal the Asian fishery, and may be as little as 20,000 metric

tons. No data exists for making a reasonable estimate.


Many kinds of Acetes products are marketed, but they can

be classified into the following types: 1) raw; 2) boiled;

3) dried in the sun; 4) dried after boiling and sometimes pro-

cessed further by having the carapace removed from each shrimp;

5) pickled in salt; 6) fermented with salt (shrimp paste and

shrimp sauce).

Generally, only a very small proportion of the Acetes

catch is sold as fresh shrimp, but the greater proportion is

dried, pickled or fermented for food in various ways. The

dried shrimp is marketed in all countries of Asia and it

appears the exclusive use of Acetes in Africa, In Japan

"Amizuke" (Ascetes pickled whole in salt and fermented) is


the main product; a similar product is very common in South

Korea. In China and Southeast Asia, Acetes is highly desired

in the form of fermented shrimp paste and shrimp sauce.

Figure 3

Sample Water Carbon Nitro- Ash
(%) gen %
(dry wgt.)

Blachan 26.9 32.3 7.9 22.7

Acetes japonicus
(8 Aug. 1972: Suruga Bay) 79.8 42.9 11.5 13.3

(25 Oct. 1973: Ariake Sea) 79.1 42.3 11.0 10.7

The paste includes "Xiajiang" in China, "Mam-tep" in Viet

Nam, "Blachan' in Malaysia and Singapore, 'Gapi' in Thailand,

and "Ngapi" in Burma. Blachan is manufactured in the following

way. Fresh Acetes is mixed with salt and dried in the sun for

5-8 hours. It is then put through a mincer and packed tightly

in a wooden tub which is covered with burlap and set aside for

a week to cure. The paste is then removed from the tub and

again spread out to dry in the sun. This is followed by a

second mincing and again the paste is packed into the tub,

covered and allowed to cure for about a month. The process of

fermentation, mincing, and drying is repeated at least three

times and finally the product is pressed into a hard mass.


Blachan is deep purple in colour and has a salty strong shrimp

flavour (Plate 1-e, f). This product remains in good condition,

for 2 months or more. The biochemical composition of the Blach-

an from Penang was determined and compared with that of fresh

A. japonicus (Fig. 3). The results indicate that about 3.7 kg

of fresh shrimp are needed to make 1 kg of Blachan and that

Blachan is a highly nutritive product containing 36% protein.

In the market 1 kattee (about 600 g) of good Blachan cost 100

yen in 1973. About 80% of the Acetes landed in West Malaysia

was used to make Blachan and the amount of production, mainly

from Selangor, Johor, and Penang, attained 4,072 tons in 1972.

The taste and nutritional value of Blachan is highly favoured

by people of Southeast Asia, and a considerable amount is ex-

ported from Malaysia to Singapore and Thailand.


Little is known about Acetes, its propagation, growth,

migration, swarming behaviour, feeding habits, etc. Acetes is

assumed to play a significant role in the food web of coastal

waters. In particular, it must be important in the dynamics

of ecosystems in lagoons, sea-grass beds, and mangrove swamps

which extend over vast areas in tropical and subtropical


Acetes certainly affords a major source of protein to

sore of the people in the Indo-West Pacific. Among 14 species


of the genus, A chinensis, A. Erythraeus, A. Indicus, A. Japon-

icus, and A. Vulgaris are most important in the plankton fishery.

In the report on the crustacean resources of the countries border-

ing the South China Sea, MISTAKIDIS (1973) mistakenly lists

Sergestes spp. in place of Acetes spp. as one of the most impor-

tant commercial shrimps in the area. No species of the genus

Sergestes have so far been exploited in Southeast Asia.

The possibility of using plankton as a food source for

mankind has been discussed for a long time. While much interest

has focused on the practicality of fishing Antarctic krill,

Euphausia superba, few seem aware th&t planktonic fisheries have

existed for many years utilizing the pelagic crustaceans, Acetes

spp., Sergia lucens, Neomysis intermedia, Acanthomysis mitsururii,

and Euphausia pacifica (see MURANO, 1963; KOMAKI, 1967; OMORI

et al., 1973) and the jelly fish, Rhopilema esculenta and Stomo-

lophus nomurai. Harvesting krill is technologically feasible.

During 1974/75 season two Japanese exploratory stern trawlers took

a combined catch of about 3,000 tons of krill in Antarctic waters.

Some scientists suggest that a potential of at least 20-30 mill-

ion tons of krill exists for the world fishery. At present, how-

ever, a satisfactory large-scale method for processing krill for

human consumption is lacking, although various possibilities of

industrial and agricultural use, e.g. as meal for cultivated

animals, as a source of lipids for pharmaceuticals, as a source

of protein flour for human consumption, etc., are considered.

So-ution of this problem is indispensable for development of com-

mercial fishery of Macrozooplankton.


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