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Pine Island's Sun Shrimp farmers see successful shrimp season following Hurricane Ian

Sun Shrimp Farm
Posted at 7:48 AM, Jan 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-25 19:23:28-05

ST JAMES CITY, Fla. — FOX 4 first visited Sun Shrimp Farm in Saint James City one week after Hurricane Ian ravaged the farm.

The farm is one of the biggest suppliers of shrimp in the U.S., and one of the biggest employers in Pine Island.

After the hurricane, the bridge to Pine Island was badly damaged and farmers had to hitch a ride by boat just to get to the farm and keep the shrimp alive.

The hurricane’s strong winds and rain damaged the greenhouse tents where the shrimp live.

With only two generators running the farm, Sun Shrimp lost thousands of pounds of their fish.

Four months post Hurricane Ian, farm owner Robin Pearl said they’ve been able to turn things around.

“All the tanks have been restocked our hatchery is working again, we’re busy stocking all our tanks,” he said.

Pearl said they have come a long way, but still have some work ahead to get to the level they were at before Ian.

“I think by the end of this month we will be. A couple more stockings and we’ll be pretty much full,” he said.

Although they lost a lot of their fish, some of their shrimp did survive.

Pearl said they only had two generators operating the farm after the hurricane and they were only able to keep some of their fish alive.

The farm has continued to breed what was left and they’re now starting to see the fruits of all the hard labor.

Pearl said they’re having a successful broodstock season.

“If we can survive Hurricane Ian, bring it on,” he said.

As they continue to recover Pearl said they’re already thinking about the future and like many in Southwest Florida who are recovering, Peal said they’re looking to build stronger and better.

The Shrimp farm is nearly 8 acres. It’s all under greenhouse tents. A lot of their tents were damaged during the hurricane.

But one greenhouse on the farm made with cement walls weathered the storm well.

It’s a model Pearl said he’s been working on.

He said it’s more expensive to build but it’s the future.

“Now that we know this model works. We want to build hundreds of these things and become a major supplier for America. America imports 90 percent of their seafood,” he said.