Staying Afloat: Last Shrimp Farmer in West Texas

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

IMPERIAL- Over the last 17 years Bart Reid has watched the shrimping industry spring up and dry out around him, and yet he's still harvesting his organic crop.

"I am not going to give up, that's for sure," said Reid. "I was the first shrimp farmer and stuck it out to the end and I don't plan on going anywhere there is too much opportunity here."

Reid says high energy costs, paired with low prices on imported shrimp edged out other farmers in the area, leaving Reid as the lone shrimp farmer in West Texas.

"It's hard to make money, were trying to figure out if we can use the algae we produce to make bio diesel," Reid, who is also a marine biologist, said. "If we can grow fish and crab along with the shrimp then we can ultimately develop a business that will be completely profitable."

Reid says the water left over from the time the area was under the Permian sea, allows organisms to grow up to five times better than ocean water. Reid is the general manager of the Organic Aqua-culture Institute.

This past weekend's harvest is the last one until next fall. Reid no longer owns the shrimp store in town and is hoping to sell all the shrimp by the end of the week.

Next year he hopes the Permian Sea Shrimp Co. crop will include blue crab, red drum and summer flounder.

"We're still here doing research, growing shrimp," he said.

Everything on Reid's 64 acre farm is reused. The Buena Vista ISD cafeteria provides waste used as compost, a natural fertilizer.

"We try to recycle everything we can," he said.