Shrimp and prawn are closely related species that people like to eat . Have you ever thought about how they get to your plate?
There are many different methods of producing shrimp and prawn, which vary in how much they harm the environment [2,4].
Since shrimp and prawn live on the seabed, they are often fished by ‘bottom trawling’ – this involves dragging a weighted net across the seabed, pulling up everything in its path . This is the most damaging type of fishing since it also catches everything else in the path of the net, often including endangered species like sea turtles . The whole seabed can be left devoid of life, taking months or decades to recover [4,5,6,7].
55% of shrimp produced globally is farmed . Coastal ecosystems, especially mangrove forests (trees that grow in coastal water), are often destroyed to make way for shrimp farms [3,9]. Since the farming is often unsustainable, once a bit of land becomes unusable more mangrove has to be removed .
Loss of mangrove trees means loss of the services they provide: carbon storage, flood protection, erosion reduction, timber, habitat for mammals, birds and fish [9,11]. The latter, combined with fishing of wild fish to feed to the shrimp (they are fed 2-3x their weight in wild fish) means wild fish stocks are depleted, causing problems for local people .
The profits from shrimp farming are rarely felt by local communities, but often by corporations which export the shrimp . Whilst shrimp farming can be made more sustainable by integrating it within mangrove trees , some argue it would be better for shrimp farmers to find alternative sources of income . For this to happen we need to reduce demand for shrimp – that means not buying it .
What you eat is a personal choice. Here you have three options: buy any shrimp/prawn, buy Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified produce that has passed certain standards [12,13], or buy more sustainable plant-based food !
See: Method types (indoor recirculating tank, silvoculture – combining prawn farming and mangrove forestry, ponds, bottom trawling etc.)
 https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/114/31/8301.full.pdf See: Fig. 3
 https://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6392/987?casa_token=8mVfsKDbUtYAAAAA:iiGteTxJnwewxCk0TQLp9DcksRbCo9G0PzPyCLuG3Vbft-lXrJXxx9uXE-Xfq8cOl6KWaglEVa28qUA See: Producer mitigation limits and the role of consumers; Fig. 1 – compare GHG per gram of protein of farmed crustaceans with that of other foods
 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/248908889_The_impact_of_shrimp_farming_on_mangrove_ecosystems Download paper. See: Loss of Mangroves (paragraph 3 onwards); Major Issues, Table 5; Better management practices
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