Appetite for Destruction
Dr Mike Shanahan
20th March, 2001
Shrimp has always been associated with the small and the puny. Why then is this seemingly harmless crustacean inspiring angry protests throughout the developing world, and why have so many people died as a result? Dr Mike Shanahan investigates
Susan, a middle-aged cashier in a London high street bank, has developed a penchant for prawns. Ten years ago tiger prawns (also called shrimp) were beyond her budget – a rare treat reserved for birthdays and other celebrations. Nowadays, she finds them more affordable and consumes them with gusto at every given opportunity. In contrast, Sri Lankan fisherman Anil caught enough fish to sell and feed his family a decade ago. Today, he struggles to fill his nets and often goes to bed hungry. His eight-year-old son regularly misses school to help his mother find drinking water or his father catch fish. Although the lives of Susan and Anil could hardly be more different they are, of course, closely linked.
Shrimp: crustacean of devastation
Last year diners in the industrialised nations of Europe, North America and Japan peeled, chewed and dribbled their way through over a million tonnes of farmed shrimps worth over $7 billion. Shrimp, it would seem, is manna from heaven. It’s abundant, protein-rich, eminently tasty and readily adaptable to the full range of the world’s cuisines. But, as new research by the Environmental Justice Foundation reveals, the true costs of...
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