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
Stranded dolphin rescued from muddy inlet
At around 11:40 on Friday 16 February, a lone common dolphin was reported to British Divers Marine Life Rescue circling in the shallows in an inlet at Place, near Portscatho, in Cornwall. A couple of volunteer Marine Mammal Medics were sent down initially to monitor the animal in hope it would be able to get away by itself, and further assess the situation.
After an hour and a half or so of observation, the risk of stranding increased significantly as the tide went out as the inlet is very shallow, muddy and almost completely dries out over low tide. Therefore, a larger response team was dispatched with more equipment in preparation for a stranding. Indeed, the animal did soon strand in the mud and fell onto its side, submerging the blowhole. Luckily the team were on hand to help get it upright again quickly, then bring it ashore for a health assessment and to begin providing first aid. No obvious injuries could be found and it measured 2.03m, later confirmed as female.
The team were soon joined by two vets, who were able to confirm the animal to be in moderate nutritional condition and appeared otherwise okay following a more detailed health check, and so was suitable for the team to attempt to refloat. However, it was not possible to refloat it safely in the inlet due to the nature of the geography, substrate and tide there it seemed the most likely reason this dolphin had stranded was due to getting disoriented in this location, and would struggle to get out again. Luckily a local resident had his boat tender moored nearby and was happy to use it a transport craft to take the dolphin out to deeper water.
With help, the boat was slid across the mud and launched near the mouth of the inlet. A surfboard was placed on one side with a soft mat on top for the dolphin to lie comfortably on during the journey. When ready, the dolphin was carried across in a tarpaulin, transferred to a mesh stretcher and loaded on board with a team of four Medics including a vet.
The boat then carefully made its way out to the mouth of the Percuil River, facing into Carrick Roads and close to open sea, which was the most ideal site for release where the chance of returning and re-stranding was lower. The dolphin was carefully hauled overboard in the stretcher and held alongside briefly, though as she started kicking strongly almost straight away it was hard to keep hold and so she was released quickly. The boat retreated and the team observed her circling in the middle of the channel until she was lost from sight. The team returned to the inlet before darkness fell.
The area will be monitored over the weekend for re-sightings or re-strandings, but it is hoped that she will recover successfully and continue back out to sea. In the meantime BDMLR would like to thank the volunteer team, local residents and members of the public for all their efforts and support throughout this incident.
British Divers Marine Life Rescue is an international marine animal rescue organisation based in the UK and is a registered charity. The aims of the organisation are to provide a rescue service for marine wildlife, to support existing rehabilitation centres and to develop new methods of rescue, treatment, transport and care. Website www.bdmlr.org.uk.
Photos: Dan Jarvis
Mother of Corals Announces Ambassador Program
Unlock the secrets of coral restoration and become an advocate for marine conservation. This comprehensive program is designed for individuals passionate about protecting our oceans and eager to make a tangible impact on coral reef ecosystems. Participants will delve into the science, techniques, and community engagement aspects of coral restoration, gaining the base knowledge and skills necessary to contribute actively to reef rehabilitation efforts.
Join Mother of Corals in beautiful Bocas del Toro, Panama to learn about coral restoration projects from start to finish. This course is designed for students, environmentalists, divers, soon-to-be-divers and anyone seeking to become a catalyst for positive change in coral reef conservation. Join Mother of Corals on a transformative journey to become a Mother of Corals Ambassador and contribute to the preservation of one of Earth’s most vital ecosystems.
Sessions begin in April 2024! For more information, contact Mother of Corals via their website.
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