Greenpeace activists at the Ramsar conference hold banner reading 'World Bank: Stop mangrove destruction' to protest World Bank lending to the shrimp aquaculture industry.
The Ramsar Convention meeting in Valencia, Spain is the perfect
place to highlight the World Bank's role in wetland devastation.
Ramsar is an international agreement to conserve and promote the
wise use wetlands. Lamentably, some of the mangrove wetlands being
destroyed for conversion to World-Bank funded shrimp farms are
actually sites protected under Ramsar.
Cultivated shrimp, the devastating delicacy found on dinner
plates in Europe, Japan and the USA, is the primary cause of
mangrove and wetland destruction throughout the tropics. Fragile
and endangered, mangroves grow in saltwater wetlands along coastal
areas -- the saltwater equivalents of the rain forests. Hosting
ecosystems incredibly rich in biodiversity, mangrove forests are
one of the world's most productive types of ecosystem and form
important breeding grounds for fish and other water creatures.
From the mollusk to the manatee
Mangrove forest roots are bulldozed into the mud to make way for
intruding shrimp farms. Once mangroves are ripped out, the coast is
rendered unstable, triggering erosion, harming coral reefs and
seagrass beds, and eliminating habitat for creatures from the
humble mollusks up the chain of life to the meek manatee. Profuse
amounts of artificial feed, pesticides and chemical additives,
including chlorine, are poured in.
Human rights violated
Loans from the World Bank and other lending institutions fuel
capital-intensive shrimp production. The World Bank's role in
shrimp farm funding directly counters that of Ramsar. The World
Bank has recently funded industrial shrimp aquaculture expansion at
sites in Belize and Honduras that include Ramsar protected
The projects funded by the World Bank also violate human rights
under the UN. Resolution 1989, Article 4 of the Human Rights
Commission to the UN states that payment of the external debt by
developing countries should not jeopardise human rights and
environment. But this is exactly what happens when the World Bank
funds shrimp aquaculture projects that destroy mangrove forests
vital for sustaining local communities in developing countries.
Activists unite at Ramsar
"Too many wetlands are being lost to this ongoing disregard by
both the World
Bank and the shrimp aquaculture industry," said Lider Gongora of
Red Manglar, an environmental group striving to preserve mangroves.
The Mangrove Action Project, PREPARE and other visiting activist
groups also joined Greenpeace to protest the World Bank's role in
Today Greenpeace activists unfurled a giant banner which read
"World Bank: Stop Mangrove Destruction". Greenpeace and the other
activist groups united in a call for Ramsar to study the impacts of
shrimp aquaculture, and told Ramsar to demand an end to funding of
industrial shrimp aquaculture by the World Bank and other
Greenpeace is working with local activists in farmed shrimp
producing counties and at the United Nations to prevent further
damage by shrimp farming.