An Unlikely Life Aquatic Russ Allen brings shrimping to a landlocked region.
There are many startup sectors contending for the recognition of being the industry that leads the financially beleaguered state of Michigan out of its post-auto industry struggle. Shrimp farming isn't one of them.
That hasn't stopped Russ Allen, who earned his sea legs in the 1970s in Ecuador, where he helped establish the region's shrimp farming business. In his first year there, Allen helped export 100,000 pounds of shrimp. A decade later, Ecuador was exporting 210 million pounds a year.
He headed to Belize in 1981 and pioneered the process there, launching what ultimately became Belize's biggest industry. Then, after 30 years abroad, he went home to Michigan in 1992. At the time, a legal structure for aquaculture didn't exist in the state. In 1996, with the help of then-Gov. John Engler, Allen helped pushed through Michigan's first aquaculture development act.