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Community impacts

Page - August 23, 2007
While farmed shrimp may make your Chinese takeaway a little more affordable, the costs have proved devastating for the people who live near shrimp farms. Delicate transitional zones from sea to dry land, mangrove forests are the nesting grounds of countless marine species including, fish, crustaceans and many mammals like monkeys, sloths, jaguars and raccoons.

Greenpeace & locals replant mangroves that had been cut for shrimp farming.

Traditional communities have depended on the mangrove forests forsubsistence. Women gather shellfish, mussels, crabs and other speciesto feed their families and to sell in local markets. However, due tothe rapid and destructive growth of the shrimp industry, thetraditional fishing grounds for local communities have disappeared.

In Asia and Latin America, there has been a groundswell of socialdiscontent about the insurgence of shrimp farms. There have beenviolent confrontations, instances of harassment and even murder oflocal people who have attempted to defend their lives and livelihoodsagainst the encroachment of shrimp farms.

Sometimes fierce competition erupts between peasant farmers andentrepreneurial shrimp farmers for quality land and coastal access.Traditional fishers are hard hit by the arrival of shrimp farms.Alternatives for employment and food are few and far between.

"I say to those who eat shrimp - and only the rich people fromindustrialised countries eat shrimp - I say that they are eating at thesame time the blood, sweat and livelihood of the poor people of theThird World," said India's Shri Banke Behary Das, member of thePeople's Alliance Against the Shrimp Industry.

The horrific effects of recent hurricanes and tsunamis also indicatethat damaging natural environments can leave humans more vulnerable tonatural disasters. For example,  after the Indian Ocean tsunami inDecember 2004, damage appeared to be much worse in areas where thesenatural defences were destroyed or degraded by shrimp farming andirresponsible coastal development for industry and tourism.