May 18th, 2009

Shrimp v mangrove

By KENNEDY WARNE

For the factually inclined, here is some background data on the shrimp vs mangrove conflict from a conversation with Lider Góngora, president of the Ecuadorian organisation C-CONDEM. As well as fighting for mangrove protection and empowerment of mangrove-reliant communities, Lider and his staff operate a newly opened seafood restaurant in their office complex in Quito (see earlier post).

Lider Góngora Farías, fighting for protection of mangroves and mangrove communities in Ecuador.

KENNEDY WARNE
Lider Góngora, fighting for protection of mangroves and mangrove communities in Ecuador.


* Ecuador was the first country in Latin America to jump on the shrimp bandwagon. The first farms were established in 1977 near Huaquillas, my first port of call in Ecuador. From there the industry spread north, cutting down mangroves as it went. Labour was cheap, profits were high and destruction was rapid.

* By 1998 Ecuador was the world’s largest exporter of shrimp. Shrimp was the country’s second largest export, oil being first.

* Ecuador originally possessed 364,000 ha of mangroves. By 2001, 70% had been destroyed. Of the 108,000 ha of mangroves remaining, 20,000 ha have been granted as concessions for communities to co-manage in conjunction with government agencies.

* It is illegal in Ecuador to cut down mangroves or to site a shrimp farm within mangroves. With reference to these laws, many of Ecuador’s 254,000 shrimp farms are illegal operations.

* More than 1 million Ecuadorians live and/or work among mangroves, and 150,000 depend directly on them for their livelihoods.

And here are some more pictures of the shrimp v mangrove situation in Ecuador.

Shrimp farm buildings glimpsed through gaps in the mangrove ´beauty screen.´

KENNEDY WARNE
Shrimp farm buildings glimpsed through gaps in the mangrove 'beauty screen.' (Click to open slide show)

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