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How shrimp farms are destroying ocean habitats

It’s no secret that shrimp has become a seafood favorite among many people, especially America who are the world’s largest shrimp consumers. In a recent study by the National Marine Fisheries Service, America’s consumption of shrimp has almost doubled since 1996. Almost 25 percent of the total fish and shellfish we eat a year are shrimp. According to Corinna Borden of Ann Arbor News, “The United States is the largest importer of shrimp in the world; we import over one and a half billion pounds of shrimp to a tune of $4 billion a year.”

Image courtesy of Xipe Totec39

Unfortunately it’s not just our consumption that is causing species/habitat loss, but our increased consumption is degrading mangrove forests and endangering marine life through our shrimp harvesting methods.

So, how exactly are shrimp destroying these beautiful habitats and wildlife? Well, most shrimp thrive in mangrove forests and eat ‘fish meal,’ aka the deceased fish remains that have become small enough for them to feed on. However, shrimp farming industries destroy these mangrove forests and build farming ponds in place of them to breed them.

Once the farms are established the shrimp are cultivated and sometimes injected with certain antibiotics. Unfortunately these farms end up becoming too toxic overtime and are eventually abandoned. When these farms are abandoned they are usually full of excess minerals (including minerals that the mangrove forests thrived in before) and they end up drying up.

MAP, also known as The Mangrove Action Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring mangroves to their former glory by ‘reversing the degradation and loss of mangrove forest ecosystems worldwide’. MAP’s vital goal is advocating the rights of traditional and indigenous coastal peoples, including fishers and farmers, to sustainably maintain their coastal environments. ‘At the same time, MAP strives to use the formal education process to introduce mangrove ecology on a scientific and social level to students in their classrooms.


Another method the shrimp businesses use is called, ‘Shrimp Trawling’ which is when Shrimp (and other fish and shellfish) are raked from the bottom of the sea in trawling nets and collected. Unfortunately in these processes many fish and shellfish that are not shrimp are caught in these nets as well (some of them endangered species) that are tossed back into the ocean dead or alive.

Organizations like MAP and Frontier help educate communities on conservation and environmental justice education. However, we need to educate our own metropolitan communities on how our food impacts the environment outside our house. So the next time you’re deciding what to have for lunch make sure you know where the food you’re eating comes from and whose environment it is affecting. We should protect the every animal/habitat that cannot speak for itself.


Check out MAP here!


The Ann Arbor News Article:



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