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. The sector is a significant contributor to climate change. For example, industrial fishing for shrimps uses bottom trawling, damaging the seabeds. At the same time, shrimp farms threaten different ecosystems in the ocean.
Furthermore, bottom trawling is a technique that scrapes the ocean floor for shrimp, destroying seabeds and corals. Also, it has a very high by-catch. The latter means that other marine life gets pulled up, which harms or kills it. More so, shrimp farms are a significant threat to mangrove forests.
It is common to use a trawl when catching shrimp. This tool is one of the most common gears in the fishing industry today. It is a big net that gets towed behind fishing boats. Therefore, the boats are also known as trawlers. When the trawls get used at the sea bottom, they have a similar effect to ploughing on a field. 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.
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, shrimp production at farms is increasing as the global demand for the product keeps growing. 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 habit 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 damaged to the point that the farms get relocated to new areas.
Shrimps and the environment
For example, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation states that people should stop eating giant shrimps farmed in the tropics. This advice 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 needs to be revised, leading 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.