Field Day 8: Shrimp. Are you sure you want to eat that? [PHOTOS]

For anyone whose been following CAT in WATER, you’ve probably heard us talk about shrimp farming before. Thai shrimp constitutes the single largest import of shrimp to U.S. markets (more than 35%). So if you’ve got shrimp in your freezer, there’s a pretty good chance it comes from Thailand. Shrimp farming is also the number one thing impacting the fishing cat. Industrial scale farms have taken over much of the fishing cat’s habitat, coastal mangrove forest, and smaller sustainable shrimp farms in the area. Farming shrimp on this scale is a messy business, literally. (See below.)


When it’s time to harvest, massive ponds — each larger than an Olympic-sized swimming pool — dump their slurry untreated into the surrounding wetland, also flooding surrounding private land and roads. This water originally comes from the wetland, and is then filled with chemicals, such as antibiotics.

I got to spend a little time with some workers as they harvested shrimp from a large farm in Sam Roi Yod. They were incredibly friendly and welcoming. The crew lead, named Tuk, liked to refer to everybody as “Hey you!” And was quite the joker, hamming it up for the camera, and at one point trying to convince me to exchange boots with him (no that is not a euphemism for something else). 

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It’s worth noting, that these folks are just doing their job. Though I don’t like the extent of the farming that’s going on, or the techniques used, it’s important to me to separate the forces driving development from those trying to make a living at a difficult, manual labor job.  Only through demand for better environmental practices can we hope to change how we get our shrimp, for the good of the fishing cat, and for the good of our health.

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