Shrimp are a beloved seafood delicacy enjoyed by people all over the world. From grilled shrimp to shrimp pasta, there’s no shortage of delicious ways to prepare this tasty crustacean.
But have you ever wondered just how many species of shrimp exist in the world? The answer may surprise you! With approximately 2,000 known species, shrimp are more diverse than you might think.
However, with the commercial shrimping industry causing significant harm to marine habitats and ecosystems, it’s important to consider the impact of our love for this seafood favorite.
In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating world of shrimp and take a closer look at their ecological impact.
How Many Shrimp In The World?
As mentioned earlier, there are approximately 2,000 known species of shrimp in the world. These species vary greatly in size, color, and habitat. While the big five – pink, white, brown, brown rock, and royal red shrimp – are the most commonly consumed species, there are many other types of shrimp that are just as interesting.
Freshwater shrimp come in all colors of the rainbow and are even kept as pets. Ghost shrimp found deep in the ocean are completely transparent, while mantis shrimp are known for their gorgeous colors and powerful pincers.
It’s important to note that this number only accounts for the species we currently know about. There could be many more types of shrimp out there in the ocean waiting to be discovered.
The Diversity Of Shrimp: Exploring The Different Species
The diversity of shrimp species around the world is truly remarkable. The Indochinese prawns in the Macrobrachium genus alone have 27 verified species, with 18 additional putative lineages identified through molecular species delimitation. The habitat diversification and broad tributary networks of the Chao Phraya and Mekong river basins have contributed to their enormous diversity.
Freshwater shrimp are also incredibly diverse in color and size, with some even kept as pets. The Mediterranean Region, for example, is a biodiversity hotspot for freshwater fauna, including two palaemonid shrimps – Palaemon antennarius and Palaemon minos – whose taxonomic status has been challenged through an integrative study.
Shrimp found deep in the ocean are equally fascinating. Ghost shrimp are completely transparent, while mantis shrimp are known for their stunning colors and powerful pincers. The diversity of shrimp species is not limited to these examples, as there could be many more types of shrimp waiting to be discovered in the ocean.
The Commercial Shrimping Industry: Environmental Impact And Sustainability Concerns
The commercial shrimping industry has grown significantly in recent years due to the high demand for shrimp in the global market. However, this industry has significant environmental impacts that are a cause for concern. Shrimp cultivation is a major contributor to the destruction of mangroves, sedimentation, saltwater intrusion, loss of biodiversity and contamination.
In Bangladesh, for example, unplanned and haphazard growth of shrimp culture has had a significant impact on the coastal ecosystem. Large areas of land have been converted for shrimp cultivation, leading to the destruction of mangroves and other important coastal habitats. This has resulted in a loss of biodiversity and an increase in sedimentation and saltwater intrusion.
Furthermore, shrimp farming requires large amounts of water and energy, leading to increased water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The use of antibiotics and other chemicals in shrimp farming can also have negative impacts on the environment and human health.
To address these sustainability concerns, there is a need for more responsible and sustainable practices in the commercial shrimping industry. This includes reducing the environmental impacts associated with shrimp farming, protecting coastal habitats, and promoting sustainable aquaculture practices.
By implementing sustainable practices in the commercial shrimping industry, we can ensure that we are able to meet the growing demand for shrimp while also protecting our oceans and the communities that rely on them.
Shrimp Farming: A Potential Solution To Overfishing And Habitat Destruction
Overfishing and habitat destruction are major issues that have led to the decline of many fish species across the world. However, there is a potential solution that could help address these problems – shrimp farming.
Shrimp farming is a form of aquaculture that involves raising shrimp in tanks or ponds. This method of farming has several advantages over traditional fishing methods. For one, it reduces the pressure on wild shrimp populations, which are often overfished. Additionally, shrimp farming can be done in a sustainable way that minimizes habitat destruction and other environmental impacts.
One of the key benefits of shrimp farming is that it can be done in a controlled environment. This means that farmers can regulate the water quality, temperature, and other factors to create optimal conditions for shrimp growth. By doing so, they can produce high-quality shrimp without damaging the surrounding ecosystem.
Another advantage of shrimp farming is that it can be done in areas where traditional fishing is not feasible. For example, some coastal regions may have limited fish populations due to overfishing or habitat destruction. Shrimp farming can provide an alternative source of income for local communities in these areas.
Of course, there are also some challenges associated with shrimp farming. One of the biggest issues is disease management – shrimp are susceptible to a range of diseases that can wipe out entire populations if left unchecked. However, advances in technology and better farming practices have helped to mitigate this risk.
Health Benefits And Risks Of Consuming Shrimp
Shrimp is a low-calorie seafood that is packed with nutrients, making it an excellent choice for those who are trying to maintain a healthy diet. Shrimp is rich in protein, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and sodium. Additionally, shrimp contains antioxidants that can protect your cells against damage. The antioxidant astaxanthin found in shrimp has been shown to prevent wrinkles and reduce sun damage.
Shrimp also provides anti-inflammatory eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are omega-3 fatty acids. Increasing your intake of these omega-3s can significantly help reduce the risk of heart disease. A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that shrimp intake was associated with improved lipid panels, which can lower the risk of heart disease.
However, it’s important to be mindful of how you prepare shrimp. If you prepare shrimp in a deep fryer or add it to a creamy sauce, you end up tipping the scale in the wrong direction. Like other proteins, if shrimp are battered and fried or swimming in a pool of butter, they might do more harm than good for your health. However, shrimp that have been grilled, poached, steamed or baked are often a healthier choice.
Like other types of seafood, shrimp can either be farmed or wild-caught. Both farmed and wild-caught shrimp have been found to contain mercury, a chemical that can cause serious health problems such as cognitive and developmental delays in children and impairment to the brain and reproductive system. While both types have mercury, the amount is low and there isn’t a significant difference between farmed or wild-caught shrimp. Another potential contaminant in shrimp comes from antibiotics used to keep farmed shrimp alive and healthy. Antibiotics must be stopped at a specific date prior to harvesting the shrimp, but this isn’t always the case. Annually, the FDA refuses an average of 29 percent of all shrimp being imported into the United States, with antibiotic residue being the second most common reason for refusal.
It’s worth noting that anyone with a shellfish allergy must steer clear of shrimp. Shrimp might also not be a healthy choice for people living with gout. To get the most health benefits from shrimp, buy it frozen (or fresh from the water!). Look for firm, plump shrimp with a pleasantly salty smell. Keep your meal light and well-balanced by steaming or boiling the shrimp instead of battering and frying it. Overall, consuming shrimp can provide numerous health benefits as long as it’s prepared properly and consumed in moderation.
Shrimp In Culture And Cuisine: A Global Perspective
Shrimp aquaculture has become a significant industry globally, with the Asian region producing the largest amount followed by Latin America. Shrimp farming has had significant benefits in terms of socioeconomic development, generating foreign exchange and high profitability. However, poor planning and management, as well as a lack of appropriate regulations, have led to environmental impacts and production decline in some regions.
Aquaculture, including shrimp farming, is currently the fastest-growing food production sector globally and is a sustainable option for attaining food security. Many seafood products, including shrimp, are critical protein sources that have micronutrients and essential fatty acids not found in land-based protein sources. Shellfish is one of the main cultured aquaculture groups globally, and the development of shellfish aquaculture plays an important role in sustainable food supply and food security.
The Global Aquaculture Alliance’s GOAL survey of production trends in shrimp farming polled industry participants in Asia/Oceania, Latin America, and Africa. The data from 2010 to 2017 represent a mix of FAO and GOAL survey estimates, whereas 2018 to 2021 data were obtained from the 2019 GOAL survey. Based on previous GOAL surveys, the industry showed signs of recovery in 2016 and 2017, resulting in a CAGR of 2.2 percent for the period 2012 to 2017. GOAL respondents reported a surge in production in 2018 (+11 percent compared to 2017) and expect to see further growth through 2021.
Shrimp farming is not just an industry but also plays an essential role in culture and cuisine worldwide. Shrimp is a staple food in many countries, with different cultures having their unique ways of preparing it. In Asia, shrimp is often used in stir-fries or curries, while in Latin America, it is commonly used in ceviche or grilled with spices.
Moreover, the interplay between local and global actors along the value seafood chain is extensive, making concepts such as globalization and glocalisation highly relevant when dealing with seafood. Local production systems are rarely self-sufficient but are frequently dependent on expertise, business partners, financial resources, market actors, certifying bodies, and consumers that are localized outside the local production system.
The Future Of Shrimp: Balancing Conservation And Consumption
While shrimp farming has become a popular industry in many parts of the world, it has also come with its fair share of environmental challenges. The conversion of fertile lands into shrimp farms has altered the ecological nature of these lands, causing non-sustainable changes throughout the agricultural landscape. The cost-benefit analysis shows that switching from leasing to re-cultivation has the lowest profitability in terms of Net Present Value, and adjacent affected farms are equally vulnerable to the gradual production loss and would have no viable alternative to leasing for fishery.
Furthermore, global food production is currently the single biggest threat to our natural world, accounting for 70% of biodiversity loss, 73% of deforestation, 38% of land use and 70% of water use per annum. With the world’s population set to grow from 7 billion today to more than 9 billion by 2050, it is imperative that food production systems change dramatically—and fast. To protect the resource base for future generations, we need to collectively stop natural ecosystem conversion for food production and produce more food using less land, water, and energy.
In order to achieve a sustainable balance between the agroecosystem and shrimp culture, some top-down policy measures were discussed. Controlled intensification is seen as one pathway towards producing more shrimp with fewer resources. However, it is important to ensure that this intensification is done in a sustainable manner that does not harm the environment or put undue stress on the natural resources.
In addition, there needs to be a focus on conservation efforts to protect mangroves and associated “apicum” (salt pan) ecosystems from pollution inputs from shrimp pond effluents and associated loss of ecosystem services including reductions in primary productivity, carbon storage capacity, resilience to other environmental stressors, their efficiency as estuarine filters, and biodiversity and abundance of subsistence use of marine species. Soil damage and infrastructure remaining after shrimp pond deactivation impairs mangrove recovery, which extends the duration of the damage and allows the occupation of degraded areas by other activities that can permanently impair ecosystem function.