Sunday, May 09, 2010


Gulf oil spill will result in increased imports of unsustainable shrimp

by Larry Geller


As the British Petroleum oil spill continues unchecked, it seems apparent that the shrimp catch will be lost not just this year, but possibly for multiple years. Fishermen will lose their livelihoods and the next generation may move on to some other occupation.

While this report is several years old, it will give an idea of the size of the industry:

The U.S. domestic warm-water shrimp fishery, operating in the Gulf of Mexico, has traditionally been the nation’s most valuable. With major ports servicing the industry from Brownsville, Texas to Key West, Florida, the shrimp fishery was “king” with a season that generally runs from mid-June to January. Over the period 2001-2005 the average catch of shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico was approximately 110 thousand metric tons. The ex-vessel (at the boat) value of the Gulf of Mexico shrimp harvest in 2006 was $354.4 million (USD). While the catch was up 15 percent over 2005, the value was approximately equal. [The Gulf of Mexico Sustainable Shrimp Initiative]

Since most domestic shrimp is caught in the Gulf of Mexico, as those shrimp become unavailable, most likely they will be replaced by increased imports. Not only are those imports most often of lower quality, they are raised and caught in an unsustainable manner.

The Monterrey Bay Aquarium lists Gulf of Mexico shrimp as a “Good Alternative” and recommends avoiding imported shrimp, either farmed or wild-caught.

Shrimp is the world’s most valuable seafood and one of the top seafood choices of U.S. consumers. U.S. shrimp trawlers must adhere to stricter environmental standards than those in other countries and this makes U.S. wild-caught shrimp a "Good Alternative" and imported shrimp is on the "Avoid" list.

Most U.S. shrimp is caught in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. These shrimp species are short-lived and reproduce at high rates, and therefore they are somewhat resistant to intense fishing. These shrimp populations are healthy and abundant and the fisheries are well-managed.

At this time we recommend avoiding all imported wild-caught shrimp due to higher bycatch levels in warm water shrimp fisheries and trawl-related habitat damage.  [Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch page, Shrimp]

This tragedy should be enough to stop Obama and Congress from approving any more offshore drilling operations. If it is not enough of a hint, it will be up to us, as concerned and responsible citizens, to demand that they do that.

Although the Gulf of Mexico is far away for most people, the problems of corporate control of our government and government’s willingness to favor major corporate campaign contributors has been brought to a supermarket right near us wherever we live



How come we can not get local shrimp in Oahu's markets? I've never seen it in any market in Kailua. Better distribution of our local products is needed.

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