Know your shrimp: Shrimp facts

March 14, 2008

  • Rank of shrimp in popularity among all types of seafood Americans eat – #1
  • Pounds of shrimp the average American consumed in 2006 – 4.4
  • Share of shrimp sold in the U.S. that comes from the Southeast U.S. (Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean), where fisheries and farms are held to stricter standards – 10%
  • Share of shrimp sold in the U.S. that comes largely from Southeast Asia and Latin America, where environmental regulations are sometimes lax and often not enforced – 90%
  • Share of U.S. shrimp imports that come from Thailand, our largest single supplier – 33%
  • Value of U.S. shrimp imports in 2006, nearly one-third of all seafood imports, compared with coffee imports of $3.1 billion and fossil fuels worth $300 billion – $4.1 billion
  • Percentage of worldwide shrimp production that came from farms in 2005 – 44% (Before the 1980s, less than 1 percent of the world’s shrimp was farm-raised)
  • Increase in farmed shrimp production between 1975 and 2005. Production ballooned from just over 22,000 tons to more than 2.6 million tons – 12,000%
  • Acreage of tropical coastal mangroves estimated to have been converted to shrimp farms, destroying important habitat for fish, birds and people – 3.7 million
  • Number of pounds of wild fish it generally takes to produce one pound of farmed shrimp – 2

A primary concern for people who eat farmed shrimp, particularly those who consume substantial quantities over a long period of time, is the usage of a range of antibiotics to prevent and treat bacterial conditions common in shrimp farms.  Chemical agents are used in aquaculture ponds as water and soil treatment compounds in order to control viral, bacterial, fungal and other pathogens; to induce plankton growth (fertilizers and minerals); and to inoculate the farmed shrimp larvae.  These chemicals include the following: therapeutants (antibiotics), various algaecides and pesticides, disinfectants, detergents and other water and soil treatment chemicals.  All of these are used in vast quantities by the aquaculture industry globally.


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