Northpoint inmates raising shrimp

August 11, 2004

BURGIN - Northpoint Training Center inmates dug their way through solid rock - as officials watched approvingly. That's because the inmates were digging ponds on the prison farm to begin raising shrimp.

Inmates are helping develop an expanding market for Kentucky aquaculture, said Richie Farmer, state agriculture commissioner.

"Many state agencies, universities, businesses, and charities cooperated on this project," Farmer said. "This shows how different sectors of government, education, business and non-profit organizations can work together to create a winning situation all around."

The inmates, supervised by officials from the Department of Agriculture and the Corrections Cabinet, received technical advice from Dr. Jim Tidwell of Kentucky State University's nationally pacesetting aquaculture program.

A pond-side sale may be held the last week in September.

Jason Danaher of KSU supervised the stocking of the ponds with shrimp (actually freshwater prawns).

Tilapia, "filter-feeding" fish, were added to the ponds based on KSU research that indicates the two species grow better when raised together, said Angela Caporelli, KDA aquaculture marketing specialist.


Tilapia also holds promise for Kentucky aquaculture. The breed, rapidly growing in popularity, is now the sixth most frequently consumed fish in the nation, according to the American Tilapia Association.

The tilapia will be harvested and sold along with the prawns, enhancing project revenue, Caporelli said.

State officials trained the inmates to operate a mobile processing unit to ready the shrimp harvest for sale.

The late-September pond-side sale at Northpoint will be one of many that month all over the state, Caporelli said.

Some prawn producers sell their harvests directly to consumers at pond-side. Other growers have pre-sold their entire harvest by contract to firms such as Fishmarket Seafoods of Louisville, a major Kentucky prawn purchaser, which will process the prawns for retailers and wholesalers. Producers sometimes also arrange to sell their harvests directly to restaurants, Caporelli said.

The joint effort will produce revenue while helping inmates develop useful skills and productive work habits, said Dr. Truman Tipton, a veterinarian who manages farm operations for the Department of Corrections.*

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