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Shrimps and the environment – the industry of fishing and/or growing shrimp harms the environment. Some researchers even state that shrimp has a higher carbon footprint than red meat. Hence, the sector is a big contributor to climate change. This is partly because industrial fishing uses bottom trawling, which damages the seabeds. While shrimp farms threaten different ecosystems in the ocean.  

Furthermore, bottom trawling is a technic that scrapes the ocean floor for shrimp, destroying seabeds and corals in the process. Also, it has a very high by-catch. This means that other kinds of marine life are pulled up and damaged or killed. While shrimp farms are a great threat to mangrove forests.  

Bottom trawling  

It is common to use a trawl when catching shrimp. This is one of the most common gears in the fishing industry today. It is a big net that is towed behind fishing boats. Therefore, the boats are also known as trawlers. When the trawls are used on the bottom of the sea, they can be compared to the effect of ploughing a field on land. Although there are bottom trawls that do slightly less damage today, they still cause significant harm. Furthermore, the technic comes with a lot of by-catches. Meaning that it catches much more marine life than just shrimp. The by-catch is either damaged or killed in the process.  

Mangrove forest, endangered by shrimp farms.

Shrimp farms

According to WWF, about 55 % of all shrimp sold worldwide come from shrimp farms. The animal is the most valuable traded marine product across the world today. More so, the production of shrimp at farms is increasingly growing. As the global demand for the product keeps increasing. The farms are a threat to the environment for various reasons. One of the most significant is the threat to mangrove forests. For example, in Southeast Asia, shrimp farming has caused a 30 % deforestation of the mangrove.

To continue, it is common to cut down mangrove forests to make space for shrimp farms. This is very harmful to the natural ecosystems in the ocean. Among things, mangroves act like nurseries for many marine species. Such as fish and shrimp. More so, many animals live among the roots of the mangrove forests. Another important fact is that the forests bind up to four times as much CO2 as a rainforest. Meaning that they are also very crucial carbon sinks. 

Another example of the effect of shrimp farms is that they have destroyed other sensitive coastal areas. As it is common for farmers to use harsh chemicals to clean the ponds. In some places, nature is destroyed to the point that the farms need to relocate to new areas.  

Shrimps and the environment

For example, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation states that people should stop eating giant shrimps that have been farmed in the tropics. This is because the requirements for certified shrimp farms, such as ASC certification, do not ensure good production. Furthermore, the organization states that the process of obtaining certificates like ASC is flawed. Which leads to uncertainty around environmental sustainability.

The climate impact of shrimp

Finally, researchers from RISE, the Research Institutes of Sweden, have claimed that shrimp has a higher carbon footprint (per kilogram) than red meat.

Examples of sources: WWFSeafoodSource

 


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