Shrimp is one of the most popular types of seafood in the world. Approximately 5 million metric tons of shrimp are produced annually. Shrimp farms are being created throughout the world to help meet the demand for shrimp. Shrimp aquaculture, which increased ninefold during the 1990s and is one of the fastest growing forms of aquaculture, now accounts for one third of the shrimp produced globally.
Most shrimp aquaculture occurs in China, followed by Thailand, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Brazil, Ecuador and Bangladesh. The majority of farmed shrimp is imported to the United States, European Union and Japan. The growth has generated substantial income for developing and developed countries - particularly Asia, the Americas and Africa - but also has raised concerns about how shrimp farming affects the environment and society.
Main impacts of shrimp aquaculture
The key environmental and social issues related to shrimp aquaculture are:
- Farm design - Ecologically-sensitive habitat, such as mangrove forests, can be cleared to create ponds for shrimp production.
- Water use/pollution - Salt water from shrimp farms can seep into the groundwater and onto agricultural land (a process called salinisation); organic waste, harsh chemicals and antibiotics from shrimp farms can pollute the water; and aquifers can be drained to supply water to shrimp farms.
- Feed management - Wild stocks of fish can be depleted for use in formulated feeds for shrimp production.
- Broodstock - Biodiversity issues can arise from the collection of wild brood and seed.
- Pathogens - The introduction of pathogens can lead to major shrimp disease outbreaks and significant economic losses in producing countries.
- Socioeconomic issues - Jobs can be eliminated when there are fewer wild caught shrimp to harvest and/or shrimp farms are shut down due to disease outbreaks; public access to land can be restricted.