Shrimp farm to open soon in Sigourney

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SIGOURNEY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - A new shrimp farm in a Keokuk County town is making a splash in the area. Iowa Shrimp Farms in Sigourney will start raising hundreds of thousands of shrimp next month.

There are already several of the farms in eastern Iowa. A couple turned an abandoned school building into the Sherlock Shrimp farm in Ridgeway, which is in Winneshiek County. Northern Iowa Shrimp raises the crustaceans in tanks inside a warehouse in Cedar Falls.

Marc Bretz, the CEO of the company says there’s potential to make a lot of money as more people are seeking out fresher food, but he says being successful in the business isn’t easy.

He’s built a large wooden tank in a portion of the Sedna Warehouse in Sigourney. It will soon be home to hundreds of thousands of shrimp.

"It's all designed so it's insulated real well, everything is non-metallic if we can because it's going to be a salt water shrimp operation,” Bretz said.

He says there's a science to it, and everything needs to be just right for the shrimp and business to survive.

"If we get to 70 percent survival rate we would have 1,000 pounds of shrimp to harvest every month if we can get there and I say a big if because it's a challenge to get this pulled off,” Bretz said.

He'll start selling the shrimp to people and restaurants locally and then expand and build more shrimp tanks if things go well. The ultimate goal is to produce 1,000 pounds of shrimp every week.

"I mean this building would have 50 of these tanks in it but I don't think you would ever do that, if you're successful you would build four, five, six eight here and then go 150 miles away and do it again in the same type of situation,” Bretz said.

He says he will start raising the shrimp in February and the first harvest is in June.

KCRG-TV9 also reached out to the economic development board in Keokuk County, but a member declined to comment.