Agriculture and Environment: Shrimp

Better Management Practices: Implement Coastal Zoning

One of the best ways to limit the environmental impact of shrimp aquaculture is to identify those areas where the industry can be undertaken with the least impact and those areas where it should not be undertaken at all.
For example, shrimp farms should not be built in areas where water quality is affected by human settlement, extractive industries such as mining, or industries that use pesticides such as agriculture.

Carrying capacities of farming areas
Operations should be built where intake water is distinct from water bodies that will receive effluents. Within areas that are identified as appropriate for shrimp aquaculture, carrying capacities need to be determined to indicate how many producers can exist simultaneously.

Operations should not be sited below the high tide mark, as those operations will always interfere with coastal wetlands. It is environmentally, economically, and socially better to build shrimp ponds inland from mangrove habitats and other fragile coastal ecosystems and pump water into and out of them.

Maintaing coastal habitats & ecosystems
This reduces some of the most significant impacts of the industry. Even so, care must be taken not to change the hydrology of coastal areas with the construction of intake canals, pipes, or effluent canals. In several countries shrimp farms are already being located well inland where water salinity is as low as one part per trillion.

Even building behind fragile coastal wetlands can cause impacts. Zoning should stipulate the principle of no net loss of such areas as a result of shrimp farming. Building operations inland from mangrove habitats requires the construction of canals or pipelines to bring water to the site and to take effluent away.

Force producers to balance losses
If mangrove wetlands or other fragile areas are altered, producers should be required to offset that impact through the creation of an equal amount of mangrove wetland or other type of ecosystem somewhere else.

This solution is not ideal, but it does at least force the developer to acknowledge the problem and to attempt to balance any losses. To date this concept has been accepted for mangrove wetlands and is now generally agreed to by many in the industry. Columbia has even put this into law.


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

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