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The Environmental Impact of Shrimp Aquaculture: Causes, Effects, and Mitigating Alternatives


Attracted by the demand for shrimp in the developed countries, shrimp aquaculture has expanded rapidly, mainly in the subtropical and tropical lowlands of America and Asia. This work provides a global review and viewpoint on the environmental impacts of shrimp aquaculture, considering the causes and effects of the siting and operation of shrimp ponds and abandonment of farm facilities. Additionally, mitigating alternatives are discussed. To date, approximately 1–1.5 million ha of coastal lowlands have been converted into shrimp ponds, comprising mainly salt flats, mangrove areas, marshes, and agricultural lands. The impact of shrimp farming of most concern is the destruction of mangroves and salt marshes for pond construction. Compatibility with other users, the presence of buffer zones, maintaining an acceptable balance between mangroves and shrimp pond area, improved pond design, reduction of water exchange, and an improved residence time of water, size and capacity to assimilate effluents of the water body, are examples of ways to mitigate the adverse effects. The use of mangroves and halophytes as biofilters of shrimp pond effluents offers an attractive tool for reducing the impact in those regions where mangrove wetlands and appropriate conditions for halophyte plantations exist. Healthy seed supply, good feed with the use of prophylactic agents (including probiotics), good water quality, and lower stocking densities are examples of actions suggested to control disease in shrimp farming. Finally, in the context of integrated management, research priorities are suggested.

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PÁEZ-OSUNA, F. The Environmental Impact of Shrimp Aquaculture: Causes, Effects, and Mitigating Alternatives. Environmental Management 28, 131–140 (2001).

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  • KEY WORDS: Shrimp aquaculture; environmental impact; mangroves; salt marshes; water quality; integrated management