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Sustainable Shrimp Aquaculture

May 16, 2011

Andrew Revkin at Dot Earth recently posted this excellent video on sustainable shrimp farming in Belize.  It’s 17mins and well worth it.

This sort of no antibiotic/low pollution aquaculture is still very uncommon, but I hope Thornton can help lead the change.   When I was in Peru last June, I saw first hand the destruction wrought by shrimp farming in the department of Tumbes.  Lot’s of antibiotics, mangrove destruction, and waste.  The oxidation ponds were what really got me.  Very toxic and, though you may filter the water after several years, you leave a permanent salty toxic mess in the dirt.

Here’s a pic of one pond I visited:

(The mounds are old toxic dirt that’s been bulldozed to open up fresh ground to soak it all up.  It really smelled bad.)

Though industry leadership is important, we’re ultimately going to need consumers to make better choices.  To do that, they need info.  This is why I’m very excited and hopeful for the new Aquaculture Stewardship Council.  The ASC is meant to function the same way the Marine Stewardship Council does already.

The ASC’s standards are still being worked out for shrimp, but I doubt they will set standards requiring an operation as good as Thornton’s.  Personally, I just don’t eat any aquaculture products with the exception of scallops and other filter feeders.  (Those species actually make the environment cleaner!)

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