As fresh as it gets

Shrimp farm AquaPrawnics, in Noxon, brings the future of seafood to the small-town West

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

When Cory Diamond approaches Sandpoint restaurant owners about purchasing fresh, saltwater shrimp from his operation in Noxon, Mont., he said it takes a moment for the offer to sink in.

“It’s just kind of odd,” he said. “It takes people a second to realize what’s going on.”

A bag of AquaPrawnics shrimp fresh from their tank, headed to Wayside Bar and Grill in Trout Creek. Courtesy photo.

This oddity is AquaPrawnics, an indoor shrimp farm located on Highway 200 just across the Idaho border — about 50 miles southeast of Sandpoint along the Clark Fork River. The nearest naturally-occuring saltwater shrimp can be found no nearer than about 440 miles to the west, in the Puget Sound of Washington, explaining the confusion.

Diamond — who serves as an aquatechnician for the company — said that the start-up’s Noxon location has less to do with its natural surroundings than the affordability and proximity to hydropower; as it turns out, operating climate-controlled, warm saltwater tanks to farm shrimp is a pretty energy-intensive process.

However, according to Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, indoor shrimp farms with recirculating aquaculture systems are the “Green Best Choice” for sourcing shrimp — the largest seafood market in the United States, a country which imports 90% of its shrimp. 

While these farm operations are not necessarily new, they require more intricate infrastructure than outdoor pond farms and wild-caught shrimp operations around the world.

“The technology is not super new, it’s just that it’s pretty difficult to get the science correct,” Diamond said, noting that the process entails constant monitoring of water chemistry. “We’re mimicking the outdoor environment inside our tanks … You can think of our tanks as a little incubator.”

The sustainability of the operation paired with future plans to create fertilizer with the facility’s waste means that AquaPrawnics is on the forefront of the most ethical and forward-thinking seafood movement in the world.

Because AquaPrawnics does not feed its shrimp hormones, antibiotics or any other additives, Diamond said he’s found the company’s product to be cleaner than the competitors. When he makes a harvest for a local order, the shrimp are plucked from the tanks and immediately taken to their destination. That kind of freshness can’t even be found in oceanside cities like Santa Barbara, Calif., where shrimp might sit on boats for days before reaching onshore markets, he said.

“I’m taking some to the Wayside [Bar and Grill in Trout Creek] later this afternoon,” Diamond said. “I’m going to pull the shrimp out of the water, and within a half hour I’ll be driving to deliver them to the Wayside. We are giving you the freshest seafood you can possibly get.”

AquaPrawnics completed its first shrimp harvest in December, and has been slowly ramping up production in the months since. Diamond said that the company hosted a soft opening earlier this spring, selling shrimp by the pound to locals. They sold out, and now have plans for a grand opening the weekend of June 25. 

The farmed shrimp in their final, delicious form.
Courtesy photo.

The Noxon storefront will be open for sales, and there will be a demonstration tank set up in Thompson Falls during the annual county-wide yard sale event. AquaPrawnics shrimp can also be found in restaurants around the area, including in Sandpoint.

AquaPrawnics is only in the beginning stages of its broader goal to be a zero-waste facility providing a quality product that’s in high demand across the country. It’s a big dream finding its footing in a discreet facility just off the highway in rural Montana, where — despite initial disbelief from many of the people Diamond talks to — there really is fresh shrimp for the taking.

“Almost every single type of shrimp you’re going to get has been previously frozen,” Diamond said, adding later: “It is really, really difficult — I can’t emphasize it enough, how difficult it is to find fresh, clean shrimp.”

AquaPrawnics is located at 1212 US-200 in Noxon, Mont. To keep up-to-date on developments at AquaPrawnics, find the company on Facebook at Those interested in sourcing AquaPrawnics shrimp for their local restaurant can call 406-847-8755.

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