Shrimp - or prawns - are an increasingly popular seafood treat with consumers. But at what cost?
Violence and pollution stain Brazil's shrimp farming boom
17th February, 2012
Despite being an economic success, prawn farms built in Brazil's mangroves have displaced natural ecosystems and the coastal communities which rely on them, says Kennedy Warne in an exclusive extract from 'Let Them Eat Shrimp'
A flat-bottomed punt with an ancient outboard motor ferries me across the Rio Jaguaribe. Golden light gleams on fishing boats catching the afternoon breeze in their sails. Laughing children dive like sprites in the river while a man fishes for crabs from a rickety pier. A straggle of mangroves lines the river’s edge. Their looping, spidery prop roots make the trees look as if they have strolled out of the sea, found the place to their liking, and settled in. Who could blame them? The name of this place is Porto do Céu, the gates of paradise.
Two residents lead the way along a dirt track to show me their new neighbor, a shrimp farm. We climb to the top of an embankment and look across a patchwork of ponds to distant mangrove forests. An electrified fence stretches the length of the village and beyond. Skull-and-crossbones signs on the barbed wire issue a blunt warning: keep out. On the village side, goats mill about in grassless yards, cut off from grazing areas over the fence just as their owners have been denied access to their traditional collecting grounds for mangrove crabs, mollusks, and fish.
Even worse, the shrimp ponds have no lining, so salt water has percolated through the sandy...
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