[Marxism] Shrimp farming destroys mangrove buffer against tsunamis
stuartlawrence at earthlink.net
Tue Dec 28 16:11:00 MST 2004
The devastation caused by the tsunami in the Indian Ocean should serve
as a wake-up call about the impact of tropical aquaculture projects,
especially shrimp farming. Those farm-raised shrimp in your $6.99 plate
of pad thai may have cost a coastal resident his or her life.
"Mangroves Can Act as Shield Against Tsunami"
By G. Venkataramani
Monday 27 December 2004
"Tsunami is a rare phenomenon. Though we cannot prevent the occurrence
of such natural calamities, we should certainly prepare ourselves to
mitigate the impact of the natural fury on the population inhabiting the
coastal ecosystems. Our anticipatory research work to preserve mangrove
ecosystems as the first line of defence against devastating tidal waves
on the eastern coastline has proved very relevant today. The dense
mangrove forests stood like a wall to save coastal communities living
behind them," said M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman, M.S. Swaminathan Research
Foundation (MSSRF), Chennai.
The mangroves in Pitchavaram and Muthupet region acted like a shield and
bore the brunt of the tsunami.
The impact was mitigated and lives and property of the communities
inhabiting the region were saved.
. . .
"It is now found that wherever the mangroves have been regenerated,
especially in the Orissa coast, the damage due to tsunami is minimal,"
Those who eat shrimp in the world, they are eating the blood, sweat and
livelihood of the poor people of the Third World. -- Banka Behary Das,
. . .
Tropical shrimp farming is the latest get-rich-quick scam to hit the
Third World. There are two easy ways to riches in Ecuador - cocaine and
shrimps. People suffer, communities are devastated, ecosystems
Shallow coastal waters are important ecosystems, especially mangrove
swamps. Mangrove swamps are some of the world's most important
ecosystems, only exceeded by tropical rain forests and coral reefs.
Mangrove swamps are inhabited by migratory birds, sea turtles, manatees,
and dolphins. 75% of the tropic's commercial fish species spend part of
their life cycles in mangrove swamps. Loss of the mangroves has
ironically led to a drop in the wild population of shrimp as their
nurseries are lost. Mangrove swamps act as a buffer for large waves, the
impact of cyclones on the coastal regions of Bangladesh has been
devastating following the large-scale destruction of mangrove swamps.
In 1991, thousands of people were killed when a tsunami (large wave
caused by an underwater earthquake) hit the coast in an area of
Bangladesh where shrimp farms had destroyed all the mangrove swamps. In
1960, when a tsunami of similar magnitude hit the same area, there was
not a single fatality.
* * *
Mangroves are one of the world's most threatened habitats. More than
half the world's mangrove forests have already been destroyed. FAO
attributes more than half the losses to shrimp aquaculture. Less than 1%
of the remaining mangrove forests have any form of protection. Mangroves
once covered more than 3/4 of the tropical coastline, it is a habitat
now threatened with extinction, as too are the communities that live in
and depend upon mangroves for their livelihood.
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