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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 30, 2004
Contact: Global Aquaculture Alliance
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
ANTI-AQUACULTURE CAMPAIGN SPINS MISINFORMATION
TO SWAY SHRIMP CONSUMERS
In a veiled attempt to "highlight the real costs of shrimp," the interest group Public Citizen is conductinga misleading public relations campaign that attacks shrimp farming using inflammatory claims and outdated information.
In dozens of developing countries around the world, the industry provides needed jobs and economicdevelopment. In addition, farmed shrimp supplement the finite resources of global fisheries to efficientlydeliver healthy seafood to the expanding global population.
Like every industry, shrimp farming has had to master developmental challenges. But early reliance on wild shrimp populations and estuarine environments has given way to modern animal husbandrybased on sustainable practices such as selective breeding of disease-free stocks, productive ponds withdeclining water use, and efficient feeds with reduced fishmeal content.
Public Citizen’s claim that shrimp farming has "devastated many nations" is not supported by the facts.Modern ponds are now seldom located directly on coasts. Mangroves are not "being hacked down tomake room for shrimp farms," as claimed by the group. Farmers respect the value of mangroves and sitetheir facilities accordingly or mitigate mangrove loss.
Most shrimp farmers no longer "continuously pump sea and ground water to keep the ponds cleaner" because it poses significant biosecurity risks. Today′s farmers circulate much less water. They also recognize that "staggering amounts" of chemicals, as Public Citizen calls them, are ineffective in main-taining shrimp and pond health and not tolerated by increasingly stringent international food safety regulations.
Producers realize that the primary disease organisms affecting shrimp, crustacean viruses, can not becontrolled by antibiotics or chemicals. These pathogens, which do not affect people, are best managedthrough the use of certified viral-free shrimp reared in ponds with little or no water exchange.
Public Citizen′s material specifically targets shrimp farming in Honduras. Through its campaign, Honduran shrimp activist Jorge Varela said, "World Bank officials disrespected our national laws" by financing farm expansion in the country during governmental moratoriums on farm construction.
Shrimp companies and the World Bank, however, have adopted a responsible attitude in the developmentof shrimp culture in compliance with applicable laws. Although the Honduran government did declaremoratoriums on new farm permits and land concessions in the Gulf of Fonseca region of Honduras in1996 and 1997, construction projects that occurred during that period did not violate the moratoriumsbecause their permits were previously granted.
Granjas Marinas San Bernardo is an example of a farm project that generates positive benefits, not negative impacts, in the region. The Gulf of Fonseca is one of the poorest areas in the nation. GMSBand its affiliated farms and processing plants employ about 2,000 workers. The farm offers free medicalcare and matches employee contributions to credit and investment funds managed by a democraticallystructured employee association. These funds subsidize an employee-run supermarket, trucking company,cafeteria and laundry.
Development of GMSB′s 3,600 hectares of shrimp ponds began in 1984 on salt flats near the Gulf ofFonseca, not mangrove habitat. In a 2001 study by the University of Louisiana, satellite imagery showedthat overall mangrove mass in the GMSB area had increased by 88 hectares as the trees took hold alongsupply canals and ponds.
Shrimp farming in Honduras is not the great polluter Public Citizen calls it. As a group, GMSB andother farms on the Gulf of Fonseca have monitored water quality at 17 estuaries on a weekly basis for11 years. Although the first five years of the program were funded by the United States Agency forInternational Development, farms in the region continued the program at their own expense.
Areview of the water quality data by Auburn University stated, "Although shrimp farm area has grownsubstantially since 1993, and production has grown some, no increase in eutrophication of estuaries insouthern Honduras has been found over this period."
Honduran farms do not produce shrimp that are unhealthy for humans to consume. They maintain monitoring programs for antibiotic residues in shrimp products in accordance with European Unionrequirements, among the strictest in the world. In addition, shrimp are routinely tested for residual pesticides, heavy metals and other chemicals. Processing plants comply with microbiological parametersby following best food-manufacturing practices.
Through a number of mandated and self-imposed measures, shrimp farmers in Honduras and other areasare continuing to improve food safety and lessen the environmental and social impacts of their facilities.By implementing best management practices outlined by the Global Aquaculture Alliance ResponsibleAquaculture Program and others, they are producing more and better shrimp.
Despite the misinformation from Public Citizen, the "real costs of shrimp" are declining and consumersare the beneficiaries. For they can now purchase more sustainably produced seafood of higher quality atlower prices.
Global Aquaculture Alliance is an international, nonprofit trade association dedicated to advancing environmentally and socially responsible aquaculture. For additional information, visit www.gaalliance.org or contact the Global Aquaculture Alliance office: telephone +1-, e-mail