Fewer Shrimp on the Grill = More Mangroves in the Sea

Barbecued shrimp


Which is it to be? As much farmed shrimp as wealthy nations can eat, or the many gifts of the mangrove forest, such as wild fisheries, here providing local food for communities on the shores of the Red Sea.

United States consumers eat more shrimp than any other seafood item, unaware of the fact that industrial shrimp aquaculture is one of the chief causes of mangrove forest destruction worldwide.

Every time a shrimp cocktail is eaten in the United States a mangrove tree is cut down in the developing world.

The Last Stands project will be reporting on the shrimp–mangrove battle in Brazil and Ecuador.

Ecuador has lost 70% of its mangroves

Ecuador was an early convert to industrial shrimp aquaculture, and since the 1970s has lost mangrove trees exceeding 60 meters in height—some of the tallest mangroves in the world. Mangrove wetlands continue to be cleared for shrimp ponds, and traditional fisher communities, which have sustainably managed the mangroves for thousands of years, see their resources stripped from their control. Their way of life is disappearing.

Brazil, a newcomer to shrimp farming

In Brazil, shrimp aquaculture is a more recent phenomenon, but one which is rapidly taking over large areas of mangrove forest and estuaries. Campaigns by government agencies promote the establishment of shrimp farms along their coastal zones and lead local citizens to believe that the development of shrimp farms will generate jobs and income. What is not revealed is how many existing livelihoods end up being lost in the process, nor the devastating and frequently permanent consequences of pond conversions.

Breaking the cycle

Last Stands wants to raise awareness of the link between consumption habits in developed countries and environmental degradation in the developing world. We will show you how the destructive cycle can be broken.

Through the efforts of the Mangrove Action Project (MAP) and other organizations, grassroots opposition to unsustainable shrimp-farming practices is gaining strength. Mangrove communities are finding a voice, and acting to manage their local resources through such ventures as community-based tourism, community-managed forests, and reserves set aside for controlled extraction.

MAP’s Shrimp Less, Think More blog shows how consumers can help conserve mangrove forests by making informed choices about the food they eat.