Pledge to Avoid Farmed Shrimp
Inexpensive, farmed shrimp have become increasingly common in the United States. This availability has allowed shrimp to pass tuna as the most popular seafood consumed in the US. In fact, the average American now consumes nearly five pounds of shrimp each year. However, the increase in shrimp consumption has drawn increased attention to the sources of farmed shrimp, the process from the pond to the table, and the ecological costs of industrial aquaculture.
The vast majority of farmed shrimp comes from the developing world, especially Thailand, Vietnam, India, China, and Latin America. In these countries the use of chemicals and antibiotics is far less regulated, and the use of larger quantities of fungicides, pesticides, disinfectants, and detergents are common. These compounds stay in the shrimp, and are passed on to human consumers where they can persist in the body for up to twelve years.
Additionally, an estimated 3.7 million acres of tropical coastline has been converted to shrimp farms, destroying important habitat for fish, birds and people. This destruction is expedited by the fact that the average shrimp farm can only function for 2-5 years before succumbing to disease and pollution. It is estimated that approximately 620,000 acres of shrimp farms are now abandoned and uninhabitable.
In March 2008, the Mangrove Action Project launched the Question Your Shrimp campaign, a consumer awareness effort to expose the environmental damage and human rights issues related to imported, farmed shrimp. We urge consumers to take the Consumer’s Pledge to greatly reduce their consumption of imported shrimp. It is time we as consumers realize that the price we pay for shrimp does not account for the true costs, to the environment and communities, of this destructive industry.
To promote awareness about the issues surrounding farmed shrimp, and to educate consumers, we have created the Chef’s Pledge and enlisted local chef’s and restaurants to join our efforts. Many have already signed the pledge, and a list of their names and restaurants can be found here.
If your are a chef, restaurateur, or foodie, please take the time to read the Chef’s Pledge, and join our efforts to protect the health of seafood consumers and protect the environment.