Aquaculture technology specialist, Ace Aquatec, unveiled the portable Humane Stunner Universal (A-HSU™) for shrimp, following successful trials of Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) with Neomar, Förde Garnelen and Crusta Nova in Germany.
With over 400 billion shrimp farmed each year, the global shrimp industry is one of the most prominent sectors in aquaculture. But until recently, there has been no requirement to stun farmed shrimp prior to slaughter – as is required of other farmed animals – until the scope of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill in the UK was extended to recognize lobsters, octopuses and crabs and all other decapod crustaceans (e.g. shrimp) and cephalopod mollusks as sentient beings. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) also considers decapod crustaceans to have the capability to experience pain, suffering, and distress. This means a greater focus has been placed on the development of humane methods of slaughter for these animals.
The new Prawn A-HSU™, developed in collaboration with scientists from the Silsoe Research Institute, uses Ace Aquatec’s award-winning Humane Stunner Universal technology to stun the shrimp’s unconscious in less than one second, minimizing their sensitivity to pain. This enables an immediate, humane and stress-free stunning process for prawns of all sizes and guarantees insensibility without compromising quality or shelf life.
The process begins with shrimp being pumped or brailed into the entrance chute where they flow directly into the water of the stunning tube. The electric field in the stunning tube ensures that they lose consciousness immediately and are maintained in the fields in order to maintain long insensibility after removal from the water. The whole process takes 40 seconds from start to finish and means shrimp are not removed from the water, which research has shown causes them to react badly and become stressed.
Nathan Pyne-Carter, CEO of Ace Aquatec said, “we know that current slaughter practices, including boiling alive, chilling, dismembering, CO2, high-pressure processing, asphyxiation or immersion in ice slurry, are all harmful to shrimp welfare. Thanks to the inclusion of decapod crustaceans in the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022, we’re now seeing retailers and producers approaching us to facilitate a humane electrical stunning process for these animals. The launch of our A-HSU™ for crustaceans will allow us to expand on our mission to elevate harvesting standards for all marine life, including invertebrate species.”
Bert Wecker, CEO of Neomar and Förde Garnelen, said that “the recent trials of the A-HSU™ stunner in Germany saw improved outcomes for shrimp, both in terms of the time taken to complete the stunning procedure and reduced exposure to pain in the process. The implementation of this technology with an intermediate ice slurry exposition afterward is a remarkable progression in fish welfare and quality.”