Toxic Shrimp: Before Buying Just Any Kind or Brand Of Shrimp, You Need To Know This
The featured documentary by Earth Focus,1 an environmental investigative news magazine, reveals the toxic sides of the shrimp and smart phone industries.Aquaculture promotes itself as a sustainable solution to overfishing. But in reality, seafood farms cause as many problems as they solve, and may even be making matters worse. There’s really little difference, in terms of environmental pollution, between land-based feedlots and water-based ones.
As documented in the featured video, low fish stocks in the wild has led to illegal fishing—some of it within national park waters off the coast of Thailand—an area that now supplies much of the fish meal to feed factory farmed animals, including farmed shrimp and prawns.
Yes, immature tropical fish is now being turned into shrimp food. This has devastating effects on the ecosystem, and more…
AQUACULTURE—NOT AS SUSTAINABLE AS YOU MIGHT THINK
Carnivorous sea animals, such as prawns, need fish in their diet. Since overfishing has led to declining fish stocks, much of this needed protein is sourced from so-called “trash fish,” collected by trawlers off the coast of south east Asia.
Fish that are still too small to be edible are indiscriminately caught in bottom-dragging trawling nets, and are then “left to rot in the holds of vessels for days or weeks on end,” according to investigators.
This rotting fish is then sold and transported to processing plants, where they’re washed, cooked, and ground into fish meal. Even rare shark species, sea sponges, starfish, and octopi end up as fish feed in this process.
Catching small, immature fish reduces fish stocks. Bigger fish are also left without a suitable food source. The end result is rapidly decreasing fish stocks for human consumption. In short, the entire balance in nature is being destroyed.
“Touted as a solution to overfishing, this investigation has found that the feed used in industrial shrimp aquaculture in Thailand is indirectly driving illegal fishing, ecological destruction, and chronic human rights abuses,”the film states.
ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL IMPACTS OF SHRIMP FARMING IN BANGLADESH
Tropical prawns are popular across the Western world. But there are many hidden costs to this delicacy.
The poverty-stricken region of Khulna is the leading producer of prawns in Bangladesh, the majority of which are exported overseas. In this area, many native farmers have lost their land to industrial shrimp farms, and once fertile crop land now lies buried under manmade prawn ponds, owned by non-locals.
Natural resources are being gobbled up at breakneck speed; nothing can be grown; cattle cannot be raised, and the local population is sinking ever deeper into poverty, unable to live off the land. Even infrastructure such as roads is being destroyed in the process.
The investigation also found evidence of illegal, toxic pesticides being routinely used to farm shrimp destined for the European market, including a chemical sold under the name Hildan (endosulfan, a broad spectrum insecticide), which is banned in Bangladesh and more than 80 other countries due to its environmental toxicity.
It’s known to be particularly toxic to the aquatic ecosystem, impacting the entire food chain, from the smallest to the largest aquatic sea life. In humans, exposure has been linked to brain damage, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. It may also increase the risk of autism.
Antibiotics are also routinely added to the shrimp feed, as described in the report, Suspicious Shrimp, by Food and Water Watch.2 And just as in cattle and poultry, antibiotic use in aquatic farming promotes the development of antibiotic-resistant disease.
In 2010, a British film crew also uncovered disturbing evidence of “routine adulteration” of shrimp sold to the European market from Bangladesh. Shrimp may be secretly injected with dirty water to add weight, which increases profit…
COMBATING THE ANTI-DEVELOPMENT MOVEMENT
Aquaculture is promoted as necessary for development in underdeveloped countries such as Bangladesh. But is it really helping anyone? The evidence tells us no…
A woman named Khushi Kabir is the coordinator for Nijera Kori, a movement of more than 200,000 people who have been affected by the industrial shrimp industry in Bangladesh.
“People who are living in areas where shrimp are cultivated are being completely devoid of their livelihoods,” Kabir says. “It’s a system that is totally non-sustainable—and just to provide some food for people to be able to eat cheaply in the consumer countries. How can that be development?”
As noted by one man inside the anti-shrimp farm movement: “I would like to tell consumers that these shrimp are produced by harassing poor people. By sucking their blood, by looting their resources, by taking away their land from them to produce shrimp. To stop the blood bath here, I would request that consumers do not touch shrimp.”
Another Bangladeshi woman says: “My request to my brothers in foreign lands, if you can stop eating shrimp from our country, then there is a chance for us to live. If you do not stop eating shrimp, then we have no other way to life; we will die.”
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