[Marxism] Shrimp farming destroys mangrove buffer against tsunamis

Stuart Lawrence 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
The Hindu
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," 
he said.


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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