Green standards being set for shrimp farms
Mexico City, Mexico
In the 1980s, dozens of firms from Ecuador, the United States and Asia moved into the rich mangrove swamps of Ecuador’s northwestern province of Esmeraldas to meet the international market’s burgeoning taste for shrimp. Seeing the coastal stands as little more than malodorous wasteland, they razed the mangroves with chainsaws, bulldozers, and fires, establishing thousands of hectares of shrimp ponds in their place.
In Muisne, a small fishing town of unpaved streets and wooden houses standing on stilts above the sea, 85% of the mangrove swamps disappeared over the next two decades, and fishing and shellfish yields dropped 65% and 95%, respectively. Many residents, no longer able to feed, dress and school their children, left town. “Everything changed with the arrival of the shrimp farms,” says Líder Góngora, an environmental activist from Muisne. “We began to see poverty and the exodus of the fishing community.”