Blog post by Whole Foods Markets Needs Your Comments

Blog post by Whole Foods Markets Needs Your Comments

Editor’s Note: Whole Foods Market, a large and respected chain of grocery stores based in the U.S., recently published a disturbing comment concerning farmed shrimp on their company blog.  I submitted the following comment, which the blog’s moderator declined to post, but I urge others to try to post comments to their blog. They need to hear from us.

Go to http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/2008/07/my-aquaculture-journey and add your remarks to the Comments section.

Below are my comments to Ms. Carrie Brownstein, the Whole Foods Seafood Quality Standards Coordinator, who wrote the original blog post:

Dear Ms. Carrie Brownstein,

Although I appreciate your attempt to source more sustainably produced farmed shrimp, I must caution Whole Foods that your attempts are based on false premises. As Whole Foods Seafood Quality Standards Coordinator, you are responsible for the new aquaculture standards, but if as you say: “with farmed shrimp, a major concern is damage to habitat, specifically fragile wetland or mangrove forests,” please note that salt flats are themselves important coastal wetlands, which are in urgent need of protection and restoration. Salt flats, like mangroves, are providing vital habitat for coastal marine life and migratory birds. If we lose many more of these valuable inter-tidal wetlands to shrimp farms, we may lose whole migratory bird species that use these zones for needed stopovers to feed and rest.

Thus, salt flats are also very important wetlands onto themselves, and should be conserved in their own right. Whole Foods may well be doing both itself and the larger community you serve a terrible disservice by selling farmed shrimp from Honduras that is raised in the mentioned salt flats. By developing the salt flat areas, mangrove wetlands are being degraded and threatened by this practice. In a real sense, these shrimp farms are still within the mangrove wetland zone in that these inter-tidal wetlands are interconnected, whereby the mangrove forest is tied to the adjacent mud flats and salt flats, and when one is degraded or destroyed by shrimp farm development, this adversely affects the other related inter-tidal zones.

With ongoing sea level rise, that same disturbed salt flat will itself become a prime habitat site for the mangrove forest life that will need to migrate to this higher ground for its survival. We at Mangrove Action Project are now asking consumers and retailers via our “Shrimp Less, Think More” Consumer Awareness/ Markets Campaign to not buy imported shrimp, but instead buy seasonal U.S. wild caught and farmed shrimp which are produced in the U.S. in a more regulated and eco-friendly manner. This will mean that consumers will have to reduce their consumption levels, but this reduction in demand will help save our oceans and coastal wetlands from otherwise certain loss with serious consequences for this planet.

Please take a truly proactive ecological stand on these vital issues today, and do not lose the inter-tidal wetlands for the trees!