industry has produced disputes in several countries and villages. Shrimp consumption
has risen, and shrimp farmers and trawl
ers must expand their business
es to stay apace. As a result, their once prolific numbers of shrimp
dwindle from the wild. A growing need for conservation
is evident and required to keep their quantity from shrinking any further.
Shrimp are hunted by fishing ships or raised by shrimp farmers, but both of these methods have drawbacks. The several tons of shrimp being brought in each year by many different areas as a source of income has led to indications of overfishing. The trawls also generate a staggering amount of bycatch annually; 10 million tons. At first, shrimp farming might seem like a good solution to letting the wild crustaceans prosper, but it has its own problems. In order for more shrimp farms to be produced, mangrove forests must be brought down systematically. Mangrove forests are important in the ecosystem, especially for the early life cycles of many types of marine life. These forests are vital and should be protected from damage, and yet the amount of natural mangroves is gradually diminishing.
Other more insidious difficulties arise in the sectors of shrimp fishing and farming. Shrimp farming will give way to the destruction of the environment. Twenty-five percent of the world's mangrove forests are torn down for shrimp aquaculture uses. The use of antibiotics and pesticides in the shrimp ponds lead to chemical-resistant diseases and pollutants entering the water. These illnessess spread among the shrimp populations like a plague, and as shrimp farms spread to coastal areas, these diseases move into natural waterways.
Shrimp trawling contributes and complicates to the already numerous problems. It creates thirty-five percent of the fishing industry's bycatch. For every pound of shrimp, five and a half pounds of marine life are wasted. Signs of excessive harvesting are evident in commercial shrimp species. The trawls also drag along the sea bottom, disrupting benthic organisms and damaging reefs.
Solutions can be implemented against some of these concerns. There can be improved measures against the destruction of mangrove forests, and regulations for shrimp farming. If there were less consumption of shrimp, the shrimp farms could have a sturdy, profitable business without having to expand and eradicate additional mangroves. TEDs (Turtle Excluder Devices) could easily be installed in shrimp nets. This would spare some of the turtles and large marine animals from being killed in the trawls. It does not conflict in any way with shrimpers while options like a boycott would make the better shrimp farmers suffer along with the worse ones. An eco-tax would disrupt the distribution of local authority, and some feel it would infringe on national rights. The labelling of environmental-friendly shrimp would take more resources away than may be available. A more direct approach, like effectively locating and stopping excessively harmful shrimping ships and farmers, would be needed. This is why I believe improved measures, TEDs, and public awareness are better options.