Auditing Tiger Prawns in Madagascar
The Big Prawn Company has active involvement with all of our suppliers. We constantly audit and ensure that the standards are as high as we expect. Our sourcing manager, Nick Neeld, recently travelled to Madagascar in our audit of our Tiger Prawn suppliers.
Nick’s Travels to Madagascar
I embarked on the 22-hour journey to Madagascar. Our Tiger Prawn suppliers are located in the extremely remote town of Mahajanga. Here in Madagascar, there are some of the best quality black tiger prawns. We choose these prawns because not only is a great quality product but there is a great deal of work that supports the environment and social support for all of those working in and around the farms.
We Move Forward Together
Environmentally, the company is certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council for their shrimp farming and processing standards. Furthermore, the company is moving to solar and renewable energy power systems in order to reduce their impact on the planet. Socially, the company provides workers with lots of support from funding local schools, hospital and police, building their own house and supplies the town with clean drinking water. To find out more about the wonderful work of Unima, click here. Their motto remains to be ‘we moved together’ and is proven in their constant endeavours.
Tiger Prawn Farming Process
In the stocking and hatching facility, located in Moramba, there is a pool of 140 different families of shrimp. These families were originally sourced from the coast of Madagascar but now provide all of the shrimp for the farming operation. By using these different on-site families, the company is able to reduce the risk of viruses and diseases entering the farms, therefore, helping the quality of their livestock. The overall gene pool is kept diverse through the number of families within the facility. In order to help reduce any other risk of viruses and diseases within the brood stock, the larvae are moved by boat down to the coast. Here, they grow for another 10-12 days until they’re ready to be transferred to the farms.
Following my audit of these sites, I set off to the production site. These internal travels have to be down via small planes as the areas are so remote. At this secondary site in Besakoa, I was reviewing the grow-out pounds. This is where the shrimp develop until they’re a suitable size to harvest. This growth development is where the prawns shed their old shell and expand into a larger shell. These ponds have very low-stocking densities. This helps the prawns to develop with less stress, therefore, they become better quality.
Following approximately 4-5 months within the pond, the prawns are ready to harvest. This process is carried out by a specific team of harvesters. Nets are put over the pond and then as it drains, the shrimp are caught. Following a chill shock, they are transported to the processing plant.
Upon arrival, the shrimps are inspected, graded, cleaned, and frozen in a brine solution. In order to maintain the high quality of these black tiger prawns, this process is completed extremely quickly.
Within this company, their responsibility to aquaculture and the environment and communities around them is at the forefront of what they do. There is a central lab site in Mahajanga. Here, there are lots of tests on the shrimps and crustaceans from the local environment, once again, preventing outbursts of viruses infiltrating the farming system. Working alongside the University of Arizona, they have published many collaborative papers concerning shrimp aquaculture and the potential risk of diseases.
Our tiger prawns are of the highest quality because of the level and care and dedication take at every step of the farming process. However, beyond this, the farm has supported a community that is now flourishing. Ultimately, what we find in this remote area of Madagascar are happy communities working on environmental friendly processes that are supported with scientific knowledge of shrimp aquaculture. The result is our superior black tiger prawns.