News Alert: Murky Waters

Like everyone else with an e-mail address, I get forwarded a lot of links to videos that I am encouraged to watch. Some are of the antics of adorable kids or pets, some are of remarkable sporting achievements, some are short patriotic films, some are of crackpots explaining why a politician is either a charlatan or messiah. Some I enjoy, some I do not. Most I do not forward.

I watched a video recently that I want to share. It is a short documentary from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation released last September based on a 2011 investigation conducted of the Bangladeshi shrimp industry. The video focuses on an area of Bangladesh called Khulna and what the film presents about shrimp farming in the region is shocking.

Now, I understand that groups like the Swedish Society and other environmental organizations are not fans of the shrimp fishing industry. But this isn’t really about the enviros; the film gives us a first-hand account of shrimp farming in Bangladesh, who it comes from is irrelevant.

You should know that Bangladesh’s shrimp exports to the United States have collapsed. After our government, through U.S. AID, announced ambitious plans to help Bangladesh boost farmed shrimp production and dramatically increase exports in 2005, shrimp exports from Bangladesh to the United States were worth nearly $190 million in 2006. They’ve gone down every year since. Through October of this year, Bangladesh has been our twelfth largest supplier of imported shrimp, worth $46 million.

The film shows the reality of shrimp farming and it shows that despite optimistic pronouncements to the contrary, the industry has not been cleaned up. The visuals in the documentary are consistent with how Taras Grescoe describes shrimp farming in India in his book “Bottomfeeder” published in 2008.

Over the last few months, I’ve met with representatives of groups that have grown even more alarmed by the environmental and labor abuses within the shrimp exporting industry. I don’t have the benefit of their first-hand observations in evaluating these critiques, but what they’ve shared with us is profoundly troubling.

If you can spare the time, I strongly encourage you to watch this thirteen minute video.  Let us know what you think.  And over the next few weeks, I plan to distribute a series of videos, research and comments regarding imported farm raised shrimp and how they are grown, harvested, environmentally damaging and treated with illegal chemicals. It is my sincere hope that you view and read the entire series,  View the video below and please look for the next installment.

Watch the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation’s Murky Waters at this link:

Read the article “Bangladesh Shrimp Exports Poised to Soar with U.S. Assistance” at this link:


John Williams

Executive Director

Southern Shrimp Alliance

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