Perilous Popularity

Understanding the downside of America’s love for shrimp

Americans love shrimp. The average US citizen eats roughly four pounds of it a year, making it the most consumed seafood in the country. But the popularity of these tiny crustaceans has a downside—one WWF is working to address.

shrimp diagram

2 lbs = Approximately 40 Shrimp

Two Pounds Per Person

Almost 8 million tons of shrimp and prawn, both farmed and wild caught, are traded globally each year. In a world with 7.1 billion people, that’s roughly two pounds per person—but it’s not distributed equally. More than 70% of the shrimp produced in 2009 was consumed in the US, Japan and Europe; in contrast, more than 80% of shrimp production now happens outside those countries, largely in Asia and Latin America.

BELIZE + WWF Panda Logo =

Farming Shrimp Responsibly

WWF is collaborating with 88% of Belize’s farmed shrimp producers to improve their practices and pursue Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification. Together we are working to reduce and mitigate the environmental impacts of shrimp farming in the coastal habitats of the Mesoamerican Reef.

Marine Stewardshimp Council Logo

Catching Shrimp Sustainably

WWF works across all sectors—government, science and industry—to make shrimp fishing more sustainable. We’ve helped two Australian shrimp fisheries obtain Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, and we’re helping others around the world meet the MSC standard. Mozambique’s deep-water shrimp fishery, for example, now has scientific observers monitoring catch on its boats, and is performing a stock assessment and measuring fishing impacts on the habitat.

1.8 million tons

Amount of bycatch discarded by shrimp trawl fisheries each year. Tropical shrimp trawling in particular has one of the highest rates of bycatch among all fishing tech-niques. High rates of bycatch can directly affect the food chain by reducing the numbers of key species like turtles, sharks, skates and rays.

Bycatch Illustration
Ugly Overflow

Shrimp farming, concentrated mostly in Asian countries, contributes to the degradation of the environment. Ecologically sensitive habitats are often cleared for shrimp farm ponds, and pollution from shrimp farms—including organic waste, chemicals and antibiotics—can seep into the surrounding agricultural land and water sources.


Wild-capture shrimp fisheries account for about 60% of global shrimp production, supporting an industry worth $50 billion a year. Fleet sizes have increased rapidly over the past 30 years to include more than 400,000 trawlers in approximately 65 countries.

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