How to enjoy your shrimp cocktail and not kill endangered animals
You’ve probably heard it a lot. Eating shrimp is bad for the environment.
It’s quite possibly one of the most delicious and worst things you could eat coming from the sea.
Trawling rakes up an astounding level of bycatch, as much as 50 percent of all waste fish caught by commercial fisheries, according to a 2005 Fish and Fisheries article. With the amounts of destruction, pollution and social impacts, farmed shrimp isn’t much better. For fishing cats in Thailand, aquacultured shrimp is likely a driving factor in the cat’s disappearance.
Now I love shrimp as much as the next person. At restaurants I avoid shrimp items. I’m not so good at being the person who grills staff about where their shrimp comes from. At parties I feel bad when I don’t want to eat the friend’s meal because it had shrimp in it.
But let’s face it. People are going to keep eating shrimp. A 2008 article by Food Democracy showed shrimp was the #1 most popular seafood amongst Americans, with the average person consuming 4.4 pounds of shrimp a year. Most of this shrimp came from Southeast Asia, including Thailand, a leading exporter of farmed shrimp. Globally, more than 4 million tonnes of shrimp are caught a year. That’s a lot of shrimp, and a lot of damage.
So what’s a shrimp lover to do? Eat Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified. Below is a list of fisheries that have received MSC certification for shrimping. So far, there are only four, but 11 more are currently being considered. If you buy shrimp from Greenland, Newfoundland or Oregon, you should be in pretty good shape.
The sustainable shrimping stars:
- Canada northern prawn
- Gulf of St. Lawrence northern shrimp
- Gulf of St Lawrence northern shrimp trawl fishery Esquiman Channel
- Oregon pink shrimp
To find out if your store sells MSC shrimp, click HERE.
Whole Foods does not sell MSC certified shrimp, but you can ask them to. Send them a note on facebook http://www.facebook.com/wholefoods or twitter @WholeFoods. Be careful buying shrimp from Walmart. A lot of it comes from Thailand. It says so right on the packaging. And be aware that a lot of shrimp that comes from Asia is pumped full of chemicals and antibiotics. Yuck!
For a place that’s working with Asian shrimp farmers to develop more sustainable aquaculture practices, check out the Mangrove Action Project, which I’ll highlight in greater detail in an upcoming article.