Out of 5,870 hectares of exploitation for shrimp production, only 5 per cent occupies the area of mangroves in Ceará. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
Shrimp farming proved not to harm the environment
Thursday, August 25, 2011, 19:30 (GMT + 9)
Various studies commissioned by the Shrimp Breeders’ Association in Ceará (ACCC), presented at the Seventh Annual Meeting of the Shrimp Sector Chamber, have shown that shrimp farming does not generate significant environmental impacts.
Ceará is now the largest producer of shrimp in captivity in Brazil, but environmentalists have frequently questioned its farming practices of the crustacean. In this context, ACCC commissioned various studies to settle the controversy.
The results of the study Spatial patterns of the occupation of the coastal zone for marine shrimp farming, conducted by Professor Dr. Marcio Vaz, indicate that the mangrove area has grown.
The study compares aerial photographs of the coast of Ceará between 1960 and 2007, and as a result of the analysis it is concluded that the mangrove area increased by 20 per cent during that period, reports Diário do Nordeste.
Given this finding, ACCC chairman Christiano Maia, said "the investigation dispelled the myths that pointed to shrimp farming as responsible for environmental pollution."
The study intended to investigate whether shrimp farming is the main cause of the destruction and occupation of mangrove areas in Ecuador. This was not found out either as the study shows that only 25 per cent of mangroves have been destroyed.
Although it is an important number, it is not 80 per cent as it had been assured, Professor Marcio Vaz stressed.
"If we have been debating the same issue for 10 years, it is because for the Ministry of Environment, the main cause of the destruction and occupation of the mangrove forests is the shrimp," he added.
However, the data show the opposite: in 1978, the mangroves covered about 14,000 hectares, and in 2004, they spanned over 17,658 hectares.
Another research work commissioned by the ACCC found that "out of 5,870 hectares of exploitation for shrimp production, only 5 per cent occupies the area of mangroves," said the association president.
"This is not bad for an activity that generates 15,000 direct jobs, produces 32,000 tonnes of food, pays taxes and generates jobs outside urban areas, all formal ones," Maia justified.
"And we're not on Environmental Preservation Areas (PPA)," he added.
Moreover, the Professor at the Federal Institute for Education, Science and Technology of Ceará (IFCE), Márcio Bezerra, said that through the preliminary studies conducted from January this year in 15 shrimp farms visited, no significant impact on the environment was detected.
"The amount of specific fertilizers for shrimp farming does not endanger the environment. This means that no dead animals were found or that the ecological function of the ecosystem receiving the waters from captivity tanks was not affected. Even with the increase of the released nutrients, no harm is produced on the environment," said the professor, according to O Povo.
The Secretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture from Ceará, Flavio Bezerra, said the research project of the environmental impacts of shrimp farming was intended to demonstrate the legality of this activity.
"After finding replies to the questions that had arisen and dispelling the myths about the activity, it is possible to double production," he stated.
"In Ceará, only 2 per cent of the capacity of the available hectares for shrimp farming is occupied. It is not a practice that destroys the environment," said Bezerra.
By Silvina Corniola