AIS Aqua Shrimp LLC is a US based aquaculture farm management company operating shrimp hatchery, farm, and processing assets in Colombia with the capacity to rapidly produce high volume, high quality, disease-free products for domestic and export markets.
The hatchery is sited separately from the farming area, ensuring bio-secure production of post larvae and controlled application of proven advanced natural genetic selection process for Specific Pathogen-Free (SPF) brood stock, selecting for shrimp health, vitality and growth.
Production from 81 ponds on 680 hectares in Caribbean waters free of disease, located next to a national park, protected by natural zoning separators and mangroves allows for low-density stocking that reduces stress on animals, resulting in consistent, excellent survival rates, with an estimated production capacity of more than 8 million pounds annually, employing approximately 250 workers.
The processing facility is located in Cartagena’s Free Trade Zone and will utilize advanced value-added processing equipment and technology able to comply with Global HACCP standards and strict EU sanitary requirements, employing approximately 300 workers.
The social compact with local rural communities around the hatchery, farm, and processing facility, will provide much needed employment, road improvements, health assistance, education, and sports opportunities, with an emphasis on women and youth.
Approximately 700 hectares of coastal mangroves bordering the production area provide essential ecosystem benefits to shrimp farming, by serving as a buffer and filtration mechanism for the estuarine system that passes fresh water through the shrimp farm. Protecting and maintaining this estuarine system will also allow for poly-culture of “salt tolerant” tilapia, which is in high demand in the USA.
Mr. Kaelin began operating shrimp farms in 1983 in Panama and has been a consultant to the World Bank since 1989, analyzing more then US$700 million of fisheries and aquaculture loans in China, Latin America, and Africa. Founding AIS Aqua Foods (AIS) in 1997, AIS has achieved a significant competitive advantage in the seafood industry with its ability to identify, acquire, and supply safe, superior quality, and favorably priced fish and seafood products from around the world. This advantage has enabled AIS Aqua to become a significant supplier of shrimp, tilapia, scallops and calamari for national restaurants and food distributors like Red Lobster, Olive Garden, US Food Service, etc. Mr. Kaelin is a globally recognized seafood expert who continues to speak and serve as panel member at annual seafood conferences around the world.
Mr. Kaelin has over ten years of experience in trade finance, seafood product development, and economic development consulting. As business development manager for AIS Aqua Foods, he sourced a variety of seafood products for the US and Chinese markets from Asia, Africa, Central & South America, and Europe including shrimp, squid, crab, lobster, scallops, tilapia, salmon, sea cucumber, and fish meal. For USAID, he has conducted three assessments, over 6 years, of the fisheries value chain in Somalia and an assessment of the fisheries cold chain in Morocco. For the World Bank, he has managed a scallop cultivation project and regional resource management plan in Mexico.
Mr. Blankenbaker has been a leader in the food and agri/aquaculture sectors for more than twenty years with experience leading both start-ups and public entities. As President of Stevia Corp, Mr. Blankenbaker developed proprietary feed supplement formulations and protocols for aquaculture and continues to develop intellectual property and protocols working with his technology advisor who is chairman of a 10,000 acre aquaculture cooperative in China. Prior to founding Stevia Corp, Mr. Blankenbaker co-wrote and co-presented a bid for the U. S. Navy Subsistence Prime Vendor (SPV) Contract valued at USD $197 million covering three zones of Japan, Singapore, and Diego Garcia and was the implementation director for the Singapore and Diego Garcia portion which continues to be supported by a partner company. During the 1990’s Mr. Blankenbaker was one of five partners that developed the first broad-line food distribution center in Singapore and expanded distribution throughout Asia.
Based in Cartagena with over fifteen years of experience in the aquaculture industry developing and managing projects in Colombia and Central America, Mr. Sierra holds a BSc in Zootecnichs and an MBA in International Business from University of Wales in the UK. His career began managing operations at the same farm AIS Aqua Shrimp is operating. Then he moved to Costa Rica and managed operations at another farming project. While in the UK, he wrote his dissertation on climate change and corporate social responsibility, working as an MBA trainee for Sturgeon Ventures LLC. Back in Colombia, he managed shrimp farm operations for another 2 years, owned and operated a logistics business as a supplier for the largest dairy company in Colombia and actively continued aquaculture consulting.