Prawn, King (whiteleg), prawns

Litopenaeus vannamei

Method of production — Farmed
Production country — Global
Production method — Pond system
Certification — GAA BAP certification (2 and 3*)
Picture of Prawn, King (whiteleg), prawns

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) 2* 3* 4* certification standards for the Best Aquaculture Practice (BAP) production of warm water prawns defines and enforces production standards to address many issues of concern. Whilst MCS ratings cover the environmental issues at Farm Level BAP 2, 3 and 4 star also certify respectively the potential for environmental issues at the Processing Plant, the Hatchery and or the Feedmill respectively. Intensive prawn/shrimp farming is associated with a number of negative environmental impacts which are of concern, these include: The reliance on an unsustainable feed resource; the risk of salinisation of freshwater bodies; discharge of organic matter and nutrients leading to environmental changes; the use of chemicals and therapeutics in production and the potential of disease transfer between farmed and wild prawns. Marine prawns are carnivorous requiring high protein inclusion on their diet, this is one of the most critical concerns regarding prawn farming as the supply of fishmeal and fish-oil being used is, in general not traceable to species level and is not certified sustainable. They are also concerns regarding the current regulatory framework and level of enforcement for aquaculture production in these production areas. GAA operate a star system, with one star * for each - processing, production, hatchery and feed. MCS rates 2* and above and does not recognise 1* rated products as this just refers to processing. GAA BAP 4* products are the best choice to make..

Feed Resources

Criterion Score: 0

The marine components of the feed used for GAA 2 and 3* prawn can be identified to an ingredient level and at least 50% of it is required to be responsibly or sustainably sourced. There is no such requirement for non-marine ingredients


Environmental Impacts

Criterion Score: -2

Freshwater supplies and habitats can be impacted but are mitigated for within the standard requirements. Chemical usage and effluent are monitored and limited and biosecurity measures minimise disease outbreaks and escapes. Predator control is encouraged to be the use of non-lethal deterrents, although some countries allow lethal control.


Fish Health and Welfare

Criterion Score: 0

Welfare criterion are included within the standard and this includes humane slaughter.



Criterion Score: 2

Although there are some strategical level criterion within the standard, national and regional planning regulations apply in producing countries. Nearly all issues of environmental concern are covered by either standard criterion or country level regulations except Environmental Impact Assessments. Effectiveness of these measures is verified by certification status.


Production method

Pond system

Prawn /shrimp are farmed in saline/brackish water ponds of various sizes and intensities in many countries, either in coastal areas or inland within or outside the intertidal zone.


The king prawn (or whiteleg prawn, white shrimp) belongs to the largest of the prawn and shrimp family, the Penaeidae. It is a native species of the Eastern Pacific coast. Its lifecycle may be divided into 6 stages or phases, from embryo to adult, which it completes in one year. The age of sexual maturity varies from 5 to 7 months. They can live up to 2 years in the wild although farmed prawns are usually harvested at 6 months.


FAO 2006-2018.Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme. Penaeus vannamei. Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme. Text by Briggs, M. In: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department [online]. Rome. Updated 7 April 2006. [Cited 10 September 2018]

Global Aquaculture Alliance(GAA) Best Aquaculture Practice(BAP) Finfish and Crustacean Farm Standard,Issue 2.Revision September 2014.

GAA BAP Feed Mill standard 2014 Revision 07/2014.

GAA.May 2013.EMS Cause identified. Available online at: