FoA 403: Shrimpin' Ain't Easy with Steve Sutton of TransparentSea

Variable Rate done RIGHT with SWAT MAPS: https://swatmaps.com/

TransparentSea: https://www.transparentseafarm.com/

[Video] "How America's Biggest Indoor Shrimp Farm Sells 2 Million Shrimp Every Year": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AK_RQ1uaGs

[Video] "Tour of TransparentSea Farm's urban shrimp farm": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wnyi1Sc6pk

Today’s featured conversation is with Steve Sutton, founder and CEO of TransparentSEA Farm in Southern California. I’m excited to share this one with you. I became very interested in indoor aquaculture this past year. As I think about vertical farming for vegetables, my biggest concern comes down to spending big dollars on real estate, technology, energy and labor to produce a product that really isn’t that valuable - both in terms of dollars and nutrition. However, with fish, you have a much more valuable product than say lettuce. So, why haven’t we been talking more about indoor aquaculture? That was the question I asked myself, and it turns out, some people HAVE been talking about this - a lot. And it’s exciting, but also carries with it a lot of the same realities as all of indoor agriculture. It was very interesting to get into these realities with Steve on today’s episode. Even if you’re not interested in aquaculture at all, this episode is worth listening to because the parallels to other farming systems are evident. He also calls attention to some serious issues with labeling, and changing consumer behavior that I think is really important for anyone in a food-related industry. 

But first, a bit of a shrimp farming primer: not only are these little critters delicious, nutritious, high in protein and extremely versatile - i’m trying hard right now not to quote Bubba from Forest Gump - but they are very efficient. They are ready to be harvested in just four months with a feed conversion ratio of 1.4 pounds of feed for one pound of gain. For reference, that’s better than all the other major proteins like chicken, pork, beef, etc. You can also set up an indoor shrimp farm anywhere. Steve’s is relatively close to the ocean, but that’s mostly because he wanted to be close to the demand - he’s making his own saltwater on site, as you’ll hear. 

Steve’s background is after attending Columbia University he spent a year on Wall Street and decided it wasn’t for him. Wanting to make an impact he got very interested in fisheries which led to a master’s in marine conservation from the University of Miami and a career in aquaculture that ultimately led to him starting TransparenSea which has been in operation for about two years.

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Tim Hammerich

I share stories about agriculture, agtech, and agribusiness on podcasts and radio.