Shrimp Facts

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In the U.S. shrimp continues to be the seafood of choice & is found on most restaurant menus regardless of the type of cuisine. Below you will find several facts &  reasons why we must reduce our consumption of shrimp and be informed consumers to protect our environment, our health, and coastal communities around the world.

  • Shrimp rank #1 in popularity among all types of seafood Americans eat
  • The average American consumed 4.4 pounds of shrimp in 2006, compared to just 2.2 pounds ten yeasrs earlier.
  • Only 10% of shrimp sold in the U.S. comes from the Southeast U.S. (Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean), where fisheries and farms are held to stricter standards
  • 90% of shrimp sold in the U.S. comes largely from Southeast Asia and Latin America, where environmental regulations are sometimes lax and often not enforced
  • 33% of U.S. shrimp imports come from Thailand, our largest single supplier
  • U.S. shrimp imports were valued at $4.1 billion in 2006, nearly one-third of all seafood imports, compared with coffee imports of $3.1 billion and fossil fuels worth $300 billion
  • 44% of worldwide shrimp production came from farms in 2005 (Before the 1980s, less than 1 percent of the world’s shrimp was farm-raised)
  • 3.7 million acres of tropical coastal mangroves are estimated to have been converted to shrimp farms, destroying important habitat for fish, birds and people
  • It generally takes about 2 pounds of wild fish to produce one pound of farmed shrimp

HEALTH


A primary concern for people who eat farmed shrimp, particularly those who consume substantial quantities over a long period of time, is the usage of a range of antibiotics to prevent and treat bacterial conditions common in shrimp farms.

“Only 1% of imported shrimp are inspected by the FDA. When researchers have examined ready to eat shrimp they found 162 separate species of bacteria with resistance to 10 antibiotics.” – Jan 2010 Alternet
Chemical agents are used in aquaculture ponds, in order to control viral, bacterial, fungal and other pathogens; to induce plankton growth (fertilizers and minerals); and to inoculate the farmed shrimp larvae.  These chemicals include: antibiotics, various algaecides, pesticides, disinfectants, detergents and other water and soil treatment chemicals.  All of these are used in vast quantities by the aquaculture industry globally.
“Many shrimp producers in Asia and South or Central America use hefty doses of antibiotics, disinfectants, & pesticides, many of which are illegal for use in the United States.” – Food & Water Watch 2008

ENVIRONMENT


Shrimp aquaculture (or farming) is highly damaging on the environment. Due to high levels of disease & sediment pollution, shrimp farms relocate every 5-7 years- destroying 38% of the world’s mangroves.

“The construction of shrimp ponds is considered the world’s largest cause of coastal mangrove destruction.” – Food & Water Watch 2008

Healthy mangroves lessen the impacts of climate change by storing carbon, filtering pollution, & serving as vital buffers against hurricanes & tsunamis. Also, 70% of all tropical fish spend a part of their life cycle in a mangrove ecosystem.

“Shrimp fisheries produce only 2% of global seafood yet account for 1/3 of the total discarded catch.” – Environmental Justice

SOCIAL IMPACTS


Finally, the social costs of shrimp aquaculture far out weighs the price we pay as consumers.

“Industrial shrimp production robs local communities of basic access to food, water, and meaningful livelihoods. When mangroves are clear-cut, residents can no longer gather crabs, clams, oysters, fish, and other seafood that once lived there.” – Food & Water Watch 2008

“A 40-page report found sexual and physical abuse, debt bondage, child labor, and unsafe working conditions are common in Thailand and Bangladesh’s shrimp processing factories, and that Thai plants often use trafficked workers.” -CNN.com 2008

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