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April 13, 2016

Vietnam

Environmental Effects of Shrimp Farming

 

According to Vo Hong Ngoan, known as the “Shrimp King” of the Mekong Delta, shrimp farming can produce very high profits: one dollar invested can result in a return of $2.00 to $2.50.

 

In Bac Lieu Province, for example, intensive farms can earn as much as $13,392 to $17,885 profit per hectare per year, which is dozens of times higher than they would get from rice farming.

 

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam had 500,000 hectares of brackish shrimp ponds in 2005 and 600,000 hectares in 2015, indicating that it is adding 10,000 hectares of new shrimp ponds every year.

 

To expand production, farmers have shifted from extensive to intensive shrimp farming, resulting in higher yields and profits—and considerable damage to the environment.

 

According to Truong Quoc Phu from Can Tho University, the high stocking and feeding rates used in intensive shrimp farming result in water pollution and disease outbreaks.  “Farmers discharge water from their shrimp ponds to the environment without any treatment,” Phu said.  As it flows from one farm to the next, it gets more and more polluted.  “This is why epidemics happen more regularly,” Phu said.”  Then farmers use more antibiotics to prevent diseases.

 

The rapid development of shrimp farming has also resulted in the destruction of large tracts of mangrove forests.  “Forests help treat the waste and ease pollution.  As the forests are devastated, the ‘machine’ that helps filter the air and water won’t exist anymore,” Phu explained.

 

Phu says if the shrimp farming industry does not adopt a more reasonable strategy, Vietnam will pay a heavy price for the destruction of the environment.

 

Source: Vietnam Net Bridge.  Scientists Warn About Shrimp Farms’ Effects on Environment.  April 13, 2016.

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