Agriculture and Environment: Commodities

Overview: Shrimp (Penaeus monodon and P.vannamei)

Aquaculture is the fastest-growing form of food production in the world. Carp and molluscs, produced mostly in China and to a lesser extent in India, dominate aquaculture production by volume and area of land used. But shrimp dominate aquaculture production by value. Consequently, shrimp aquaculture is one of the fastest growing forms of aquaculture.
Demand & Supply - Running neck & neck
From 1982 to 1992 shrimp production increased ninefold (FAO 2002). In spite of dramatic increases in production, the price of shrimp did not decline over the same period. Demand has more than kept pace with increased supply.

In fact, one of the major factors contributing to unsustainable production practices, at least until recently, is that farmers have simply made too much money doing shrimp aquaculture the wrong way for anyone to be able to convince them to change. There is evidence, however, that this situation is changing.

Damaging important coastal wetlands
The shrimp aquaculture industry can cause considerable damage to fragile coastal wetlands. The types of habitat that have been affected include mangroves, salt flats, mudflats, estuaries, tidal basins, and coastal marshes.

While few of these areas appear to be hot spots of biodiversity, they are nonetheless essential hunting, nesting, breeding and migratory homes to many fish, invertebrates, migratory birds, and other species. Furthermore, these coastal areas are extremely important for regulating the ecological interactions between land and water.

They buffer the impact of storms and high tides on land, and they trap sediments and other organic matter on land, preventing them from choking aquatic life near the shore or deeper in the oceans. Shrimp aquaculture has often changed fundamentally the hydrology that is the basis of these ecosystem functions.

Credits

Extracts from "World Agriculture & Environment" by Jason Clay - buy the book online from Island Press

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