Grinding Nemo

Check out this new video from the Ecologist: Grinding Nemo- Why tropical prawns should be blacklisted…?


I remember riding on the train heading south, and I kept reading stories about people being displaced, some even being murdered by a shrimp farm mafia. It was back in early 1992, when I visited village after village along the coast of Thailand, all of which were devastated by encroaching shrimp farms. The mangrove forests, which the residents depended on for survival, had been illegally demolished to make way for vast ponds of chemicals and shrimp. I vividly recalls a conversation with a young fisherman from a small village where two men who had protested the illegal clearing of mangroves had been murdered. Sitting with his son, the fisherman talked about how he had to keep taking his boat farther offshore in hopes of finding fish, as a result of the mangrove destruction. Those who protested might be killed by this shrimp mafia. Villagers did not allow me to take their pictures for fear of this mafia. I left that Thai village with a new mission. Joining forces with two others, we began building a network of activists and fisherfolk in Thailand forming a networking chain that now stretches around the world. So began the Mangrove Action Project in March of 1992.. Now I and the staff of Mangrove Action Project work with fishing communities in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, helping them develop new ways to restore the mangrove forests. Local people are involved in the projects, so the communities become stronger from within. I also help communities around the world share ideas and techniques with each other. But working as a global ecologist is not an easy road to follow. Although not lacking in energy, Mangrove Action Project has only 5 full-time employees, some part time staff, and dedicated volunteers with offices in 3 different countries. I hopes to build a larger team, so they can continue to do the vital work needed to support communities that have been devastated by shrimp farming and mangrove loss.

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One comment on “Grinding Nemo
  1. shrimpless says:

    Please check out this further reason to not eat imported shrimp!
    Bloomberg News
    Asian Seafood Raised on Pig Feces Approved for U.S. Consumers
    By Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen and William Bi on October 11, 2012

    At Ngoc Sinh Seafoods Trading & Processing Export Enterprise, a seafood exporter on Vietnam’s southern coast, workers stand on a dirty floor sorting shrimp one hot September day. There’s trash on the floor, and flies crawl over baskets of processed shrimp stacked in an unchilled room in Ca Mau.

    Elsewhere in Ca Mau, Nguyen Van Hoang packs shrimp headed for the U.S. in dirty plastic tubs. He covers them in ice made with tap water that the Vietnamese Health Ministry says should be boiled before drinking because of the risk of contamination with bacteria. Vietnam ships 100 million pounds of shrimp a year to the U.S. That’s almost 8 percent of the shrimp Americans eat.

    Using ice made from tap water in Vietnam is dangerous because it can spread bacteria to the shrimp, microbiologist Mansour Samadpour says, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its November issue.

    “Those conditions — ice made from dirty water, animals near the farms, pigs — are unacceptable,” says Samadpour, whose company, IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group, specializes in testing water for shellfish farming.

    Ngoc Sinh has been certified as safe by Geneva-based food auditor SGS SA, says Nguyen Trung Thanh, the company’s general director.
    No Record

    “We are trying to meet international standards,” Thanh says.

    SGS spokeswoman Jennifer Buckley says her company has no record of auditing Ngoc Sinh.

    At Chen Qiang’s tilapia farm in Yangjiang city in China’s Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong, Chen feeds fish partly with feces from hundreds of pigs and geese. That practice is dangerous for American consumers, says Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety.

    “The manure the Chinese use to feed fish is frequently contaminated with microbes like salmonella,” says Doyle, who has studied foodborne diseases in China.

    On a sweltering, overcast day in August, the smell of excrement is overpowering. After seeing dead fish on the surface, Chen, 45, wades barefoot into his murky pond to open a pipe that adds fresh water from a nearby canal. Exporters buy his fish to sell to U.S. companies.

    Yang Shuiquan, chairman of a government-sponsored tilapia aquaculture association in Lianjiang, 200 kilometers from Yangjiang, says he discourages using feces as food because it contaminates water and makes fish more susceptible to diseases. He says a growing number of Guangdong farmers adopt that practice anyway because of fierce competition.

    “Many farmers have switched to feces and have stopped using commercial feed,” he says.
    Frequently Contaminated

    About 27 percent of the seafood Americans eat comes from China — and the shipments that the FDA checks are frequently contaminated, the FDA has found. The agency inspects only about 2.7 percent of imported food. Of that, FDA inspectors have rejected 1,380 loads of seafood from Vietnam since 2007 for filth and salmonella, including 81 from Ngoc Sinh, agency records show. The FDA has rejected 820 Chinese seafood shipments since 2007, including 187 that contained tilapia.

    To contact the reporters for this story: Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen in Hanoi

    William Bi in Beijing at

    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Neumann

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