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Marine Life & Conservation

Why it’s a good idea to stop eating shrimp

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Shrimp is the most popular seafood in the United States, with Americans eating an average of 4.1 pounds per person annually. As delicious as shrimp may be, we actually should not be eating them. The process that delivers bags of frozen shrimp to your grocery store at cheap prices has devastating ecological consequences, and you’ll probably not want to touch that shrimp ring ever again after reading what’s really happening behind the scenes.

Shrimp is either farmed or wild, but neither option is good for the environment. Farmed shrimp are kept in pools on the coast, where the tide can refresh the water and carry waste out to sea. Ponds are prepared with heavy doses of chemicals such as urea, superphosphate, and diesel. Then the shrimp receive pesticides, antibiotics (some that are banned in the U.S., but used overseas), piscicides (fish-killing chemicals like chlorine), sodium tripolyphosphate, borax, and caustic soda.

Shrimp farmers have destroyed an estimated 38 percent of the world’s mangroves to create shrimp ponds, and the damage is permanent. Not only do the mangroves not return long after production has ended, but the surrounding areas become wastelands. According to a Yale University research paper, shrimp farming has made certain areas of Bangladesh completely unlivable for people: “The introduction of brackish-water shrimp aquaculture… has, in turn, caused massive depeasantization and ecological crisis throughout the region.”

TreeHugger has covered the problems with shrimp farming in the past. As Stephen Messenger wrote last year:

“It takes five square miles of cleared mangrove forest to produce just over two pounds of shrimp — and that land is typically left depleted within ten years and rendered unusable for another forty. By comparison, the devastation left behind from cattle-ranch deforestation seems, well, quite rosy.”

According to Jill Richardson’s informative article called “Shrimp’s Dirty Secrets: Why America’s Favorite Seafood is a Health and Ecological Nightmare,” wild shrimp isn’t a better option because it usually involves the use of deep-sea trawlers, which kills 5 to 20 pounds of “bycatch” (unwanted species of fish accidentally scooped up by the trawler’s net) for every pound of shrimp. Trawling is comparable to bulldozing an entire section of rainforest to catch a single species of bird. “[The bycatch] includes sharks, rays, starfish, juvenile red snapper, sea turtles and more. While shrimp trawl fisheries only represent 2 percent of the global fish catch, they are responsible for over one-third of the world’s bycatch.” Then the bycatch gets tossed over the side of the boat.

As for health risks, Richardson says that most shrimp is not inspected by the FDA. In fact, when researchers tested imported ready-to-eat shrimp, they found 162 separate varieties of bacteria with resistance to 10 different antibiotics.

There aren’t many ‘good’ options, for those of you who still want to eat shrimp. Some wild pink shrimp from Oregon and spot prawns from British Columbia are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, but they are not widely available and, as Richardson says, not true substitutes for the large white and tiger shrimp that American consumers are used to. Indeed, I’ve noticed that there are no MSC-certified bags of frozen shrimp in any supermarket I’ve visited.

The best option probably won’t appeal to some people – just stop eating shrimp. Until production standards change dramatically, buying shrimp only perpetuates a horrible system; and it’s unlikely that production will change if demand continues at its current level.

Article courtesy of www.treehugger.com

Katherine Martinko is a stay-at-home mom with two little boys in the town of Port Elgin, Ontario. Katherine has her own blog (http://feistyredhair.wordpress.com/) and writes daily for the Living section of www.treehugger.com, a website all about green living and sustainability.

Marine Life & Conservation

Join us in supporting Dive Project Cornwall Crowdfunder Project

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Do you have a moment to help protect our oceans?

We’re on a mission and have partnered with DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL to help protect our oceans for future generations to cherish and enjoy.

DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL is a unique EDUCATION and EXPERIENCE initiative, reaching over 3,000 schools with their Ocean Education Programme, inspiring the next generation to protect our oceans for everyone to cherish and enjoy.

At the heart of the project is a competition for 400 lucky teenagers to win the EXPERIENCE of a lifetime. They will take the learning from the classroom straight to the shores of Porthkerris on a 6-day, life changing trip where they will learn to scuba dive and be taught the importance of marine conservation. They will become ‘Ocean Influencers’ for the future.

DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL needs our help.

Can you join us with a gift to DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL?

Whether it’s £5 or £50, a gift from you to the DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL Crowdfunder Project will help their vision of protecting our oceans through the innovative experience designed for school children.

Will you join us and pledge to support 400 lucky teenagers learn from and EXPERIENCE the ocean like never before and give them an EDUCATION they can use to inspire others, not forgetting the memories that will last a lifetime?

For more information, you can read the DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL story HERE.

Help us create the next generation of Ocean Influencers with a donation to DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL and ensure our oceans (and planet) are protected for the future.

WWW.CROWDFUNDER.CO.UK/P/DIVE-PROJECT-CORNWALL

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Marine Life & Conservation

Spring jellyfish blooms bring turtles to UK shores

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Marine Conservation Society’s wildlife sightings project asks beachgoers to share their discoveries and contribute to research

The Marine Conservation Society’s long-running wildlife sightings project focuses on two key species which arrive on UK shores: jellyfish and, as a result, turtles. Both species are vital in supporting ocean biodiversity and are indicators of climate change while being at risk from its impacts.

The charity is asking beach and seagoers to share when they spot either of these marine animals to support ongoing research.

During spring and summer, jellyfish arrive in the UK’s warming waters to feed on plankton blooms or, in fact, anything small enough to get caught. To that extent, jellyfish feed not only on plankton, but also the array of eggs and larvae of fish, crustaceans, starfish and molluscs which rely on plankton as a stage of reproduction.

With healthy fish stocks and rich biodiversity, jellyfish quickly become part of an effective food chain. Everything from tuna to turtles will feed on jellyfish of various sizes, so the population is well controlled. Supported by a rich and diverse ocean ecosystem, jellyfish link the microscopic world of plankton to larger marine animals and the ocean around them.

Jellyfish are especially appealing for marine turtles. Six of the world’s seven marine turtle species have been spotted in UK seas as a result of jellyfish blooms in spring and summer.

The largest sea turtle, and the most common in UK seas, is the leatherback which has a ‘vulnerable’ conservation status. Reporting sightings of these incredible creatures will support the Marine Conservation Society and others in understanding their movements, potential threats and how to better protect them.

Amy Pilsbury, Citizen Science Project Lead at the Marine Conservation Society, said:“For more than 17 years, beachgoers across the UK have been contributing to scientific research by sharing their wildlife sightings with us. It’s a key part of our work and plays a vital role in better understanding and protecting our ocean.”

In 2014, with partners from the University of Exeter, the Marine Conservation Society published the first paper from the survey data, confirming key information about UK jellyfish and including the first distribution maps of the surveyed species.

Since the 2014 paper, the wildlife sightings project has recorded notable events such as massive and extensive annual blooms of barrel jellyfish and several summers of Portuguese Man o’ War mass strandings.

The charity continues to run its wildlife sightings project to see what happens to the distribution and frequency of mass jellyfish blooms over time. The data will help to explore any links jellyfish blooms have with big-picture factors such as climate change.

Jellyfish can be spotted year-round in UK seas, but larger blooms are more likely to appear in spring, lasting through until autumn. Jellyfish sighting records from 2021 suggest that compass jellyfish are the most common around UK shores, making up 36% of reported sightings.

Jellyfish species Percentage of sightings reported
Compass jellyfish 36%
Moon jellyfish 17%
Lion’s mane jellyfish 15%
Barrel jellyfish 14%
Blue jellyfish 9%
Portuguese Man o’ War 6%
Mauve stinger 2%
By the wind sailor 1%

For more information on how to identify jellyfish and turtles, and to report a sighting, please visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website.

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