Farmed shrimp accounts for 55% of the shrimp produced globally. Most shrimp aquaculture occurs in China, followed by Thailand, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Brazil, Ecuador, and Bangladesh, and it has generated substantial income in these developing countries. Farming has made shrimp more accessible to an eager, shrimp-loving public in the US, Europe, Japan, and elsewhere. Investors seeking profits have intensified farming methods with industrialized processes, sometimes at significant cost to the environment.
WWF is committed to ensuring this valuable commodity is produced responsibly. Shrimp farming is traditionally fractionalized—much of it is done on small farms in Southeast Asian countries. Often, governments and development aid agencies in these countries have promoted shrimp aquaculture as a path to helping people with incomes below the poverty line. These policies have sometimes been at the expense of wetland ecosystems, partly because building shrimp ponds near tidal areas saves farmers the expense of high-elevation water pumps and long-term pumping costs.
Less than three decades later, there is transformational change and continued interest to address environmental and social impacts by many in the shrimp farming industry. Large and small shrimp farms alike in Central America, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere are working toward producing shrimp responsibly. Several are looking to comply with the rigorous ASC shrimp standards as an independent means of demonstrating their compliance with responsible farming.