Press Release: Mangrove Action Project Launches Consumer Awareness Campaign

Press Release: Mangrove Action Project Launches Consumer Awareness Campaign

April 23, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mangrove Action Project Launches Consumer Awareness Campaign Exposing the Environmental Damage and Human Rights Issues Related to Imported Farmed Shrimp

Mangrove Action Project (MAP) recently launched a Seattle-based campaign, “The High Cost of Cheap Shrimp,” urging consumers to greatly reduce their consumption of imported shrimp. The campaign addresses the environmental, community, and health problems associated with the shrimp aquaculture industry, and coincides with a new report released by the American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) highlighting the labor abuses common in the production of farmed shrimp. According to the report, “The True Cost of Shrimp,” child labor, human trafficking, beatings, torture and murder are prevalent. This is unsurprising to Alfredo Quarto, the executive director of MAP. “This abuse has happened in Asia, Latin America and Africa for too long, and it is time 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.”

Since 1992, Mangrove Action Project has been opposing the expansion of shrimp farming, which pollutes land and waterways and poses the single greatest threat to mangrove forests worldwide. Mangroves are vital marine nurseries that support a great diversity of sea life and provide protection from coastal erosion and storm damage. Many native people rely on mangroves for food and resources, and the expansion of shrimp farms has resulted in hardship and displacement for already marginalized communities.

Imported shrimp also raises questions and concerns about food safety. In the U.S., the FDA inspects only a small percentage of imported seafood (less than 2%), so the shrimp reaching consumers may be diseased or contaminated with antibiotics, chemicals, detergents, and other residues.

“Government and industry have supported shrimp farming without paying attention to food security and ecological sustainability,” asserts Quarto. MAP is urging consumers to avoid all imported shrimp and to only buy U.S. wild-caught or farmed shrimp. “In the Pacific Northwest, we are lucky to have local sources of sustainably harvested wild shrimp, including spot prawns and Oregon pink shrimp,” notes Eli Penberthy, the campaign’s coordinator. She added: “You should eat local shrimp for the same reasons you eat food from the farmers’ market—it doesn’t take a toll on the environment, it’s healthier, and it’s definitely more flavorful.” For more information, visit the campaign blog: http://questionyourshrimp.com or www.mangroveactionproject.org