University of Missouri harvesting shrimp

COLUMBIA, Mo. - When most people think of fresh seafood, the state of Missouri doesn't usually come to mind. 

However, that soon could change with the research done by a University of Missouri professor who built his own salt water shrimp farm in mid-Missouri.

The greenhouse is just north of Columbia at the MU Bradford Research Center. Researchers told ABC 17 News that a fresh crop of shrimp can be produced every three to four months.

Professor David Brune says he can harvest almost anything in his greenhouse that comes from the sea. He picked shrimp because it is one of the largest cash crops in the world, and he says the way it's being produced internationally is hurting the environment.

"The United States is currently importing 1.2 billion pounds of shrimp a year from Asia," said Brune. "It is cheap to U.S. consumers, but it's being produced in an unsustainable way. It will stop. No question about that, and when it does stop there has to be an alternative way to produce seafood."

That is what he has discovered in mid-Missouri. All the water is recycled, and algae is used to control water quality. Brine shrimp then eat the excess algae and then can be turned into a food source for the Pacific white shrimp.

The shrimp is not genetically engineered in any way. They came from a hatchery in Florida, and have been in Missouri for three months now.

Store prices for shrimp are less than $3 a pound, but with these Missouri shrimp, "consumers would have to be willing to pay a premium price, of about a dollar more per pound," said Brine.

If that becomes the case, Brine says these shrimp could bring $100,000 per acre of water every 120 days.

In order for this to work on a commercial level, it will take a significant investment. Brune says he has several investors interested.

As for the taste, Brune says his customers tell him they are the best shrimp they have have ever eaten.

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