Shrimp is a beloved seafood in the United States, but did you know that most of it is imported from Southeast Asia and Central America?
This fact alone raises concerns about the impact on the environment and the potential for exploitation in the shrimp farming industry. In particular, the destruction of mangrove forests to make way for shrimp ponds has a significant impact on carbon sequestration and storage.
However, there are sustainable options available, such as American wild-caught shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico.
In this article, we’ll explore where Fisherman’s Wharf shrimp comes from and how it fits into the larger picture of sustainable seafood sourcing.
Where Does Fisherman’s Wharf Shrimp Come From?
Fisherman’s Wharf shrimp is farm-raised and ready to cook, but where exactly does it come from? According to the label, it is Best Aquaculture Practices Certified® and sustainably sourced seafood.
Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of Fisherman’s Wharf, partners with leading seafood sustainability organizations to ensure that their seafood is responsibly sourced. This means that the shrimp is farmed in a way that minimizes harm to the environment and ensures fair labor practices for workers.
While the label doesn’t specify the exact location of the shrimp farms, it is reassuring to know that Fisherman’s Wharf is committed to sustainability and responsible sourcing.
The Global Shrimp Industry: A Closer Look
The global shrimp industry has seen significant growth in recent years, with production levels expected to increase by at least 8.9 percent in 2021 and over 5 percent in 2022. This growth is due in part to the sector rebounding after a suppressed growth period during the first year of the Covid pandemic. Despite challenges such as quarantine restrictions, labor shortages, logistics issues, and weather disruptions, the industry has managed to achieve impressive growth rates.
According to The Global Shrimp Aquaculture Production Survey and Forecast, Ecuador is expected to replace India as the world’s top shrimp exporter by both volume and value in 2021. Brazil had the most substantial growth at 23.8 percent, while Thailand grew by an impressive 12.8 percent. However, the prospect of a drop in market prices in 2022 due to increased volumes and the possibility of pandemic restrictions returning is a major concern for operators in the sector.
The global shrimp market is projected to grow from $33.81 billion in 2021 to $53.63 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 6.81% in the forecast period of 2021-2028. Shrimps have high nutritional content and are widely consumed due to their rich source of nutrients and easy availability. They are also widely used in various cuisines such as Asian cuisines, further propelling market growth.
Sustainability is also a growing concern for the industry, with leading seafood sustainability organizations partnering with companies like Fisherman’s Wharf to ensure responsible sourcing practices. While the exact location of shrimp farms may not always be specified, it is reassuring to know that efforts are being made towards sustainability and responsible sourcing practices in the global shrimp industry.
Environmental Impacts Of Shrimp Farming
Shrimp farming, whether it is farmed or wild, has significant environmental impacts. Farmed shrimp are kept in ponds along the coast, where the tide can refresh the water and carry waste out to sea. However, a steady stream of organic waste, chemicals, and antibiotics from shrimp farms can pollute groundwater or coastal estuaries. Salt from the ponds can also seep into the groundwater and onto agricultural land, causing lasting effects and changing the hydrology that provides the foundation of wetland ecosystems.
In Bangladesh, unregulated coastal shrimp farming has emerged as the most unfavorable structure of resource use over the past couple of decades. Shrimp cultivating has various ecological punishments like high salinity in soils, soil and pollution and disease outbreak, public health hazard, mangroves destruction, loss of diverseness and nearby environmental modification. Shrimp farmers have destroyed an estimated 38 percent of the world’s mangroves to create shrimp ponds, causing permanent damage to the environment. According to a Yale University research paper, shrimp farming has made certain areas of Bangladesh completely unlivable for people.
Intensive mono-culture, or farming one species alone, can create heavily concentrated wastes that have a huge impact on the environment if released untreated. Wastewater from shrimp farming is released into coastal waters every year, which can imbalance the ecosystem and lead to eutrophication. While shrimp farmers combat potential negative effects by implementing aeration systems to increase dissolved oxygen levels, the adjacent ecosystem cannot effectively absorb all of the nutrients.
It is imperative that shrimp farms adapt to methods that reduce the amount of excess feed and nutrients in discharged wastewater to minimize harm to the environment. A sustainability concept for an eco-friendly and socially appropriate farming and management system ought to be developed around the world to ensure a sustainable future for shrimp farming. The long-term benefits of shrimp cultivation can only be achieved through ecologically sustainable shrimp farming practices that address both environmental and economic issues produced by conventional shrimp farming methods.
American Wild-caught Shrimp: A Sustainable Alternative
Consumers who are concerned about sustainability and want to support American workers have a great alternative to farm-raised and imported shrimp: wild-caught American shrimp. When you buy U.S. wild-caught American shrimp, you are supporting one of the most sustainable fisheries in the world.
Sustainability means managing the population of a species by harvesting it in ways that ensure the long-term vitality of the harvested species, minimize impacts on habitat and other species, and support fisheries-dependent communities. U.S. domestic shrimpers and processors operate under some of the world’s most robust environmental protections, harvesting and processing environmentally safe, sustainable sources of domestic seafood, creating jobs, and supporting resilient working waterfronts and coastal communities.
Wild-caught shrimp from the U.S. are caught with the environment in mind. Shrimpers and processors and the entire ecosystem that depends on the Wild American shrimp industry for their livelihoods have the most at stake. They are invested in making sure they preserve this livelihood for generations to come. The U.S. marine ecosystem is among the most highly regulated sustainable collection of fisheries in the world.
Over 95% of the shrimp consumed in the U.S. are imported farm-raised shrimp. While there are some imported, farm-raised shrimp that can be okay, there’s no way to know whether harmful or illegal practices have been used due to minimal import inspection and regulation in the United States. Unknowns range from the potential use of veterinary drugs and other chemicals and hormones banned in the U.S. during the farming process along with the possibility of being harvested or processed using forced slave or even child labor.
When you buy Wild American Shrimp, you can have peace of mind that your shrimp will be free of harmful substances listed above and that they are caught in a way that sustains the shrimp supply and the environment in which they grow. An added benefit is that you can be proud that you are helping sustain the American shrimping industry, an industry built upon generations of shrimpers passing their trade on to their children, grandchildren, and beyond.
Sourcing Fisherman’s Wharf Shrimp: Tracing The Supply Chain
Despite the sustainability and certification claims on the label, it can be challenging to trace the exact supply chain of Fisherman’s Wharf shrimp. As over 90% of shrimp consumed in the United States is imported, it is likely that the shrimp is sourced from Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, India, Thailand, and Vietnam, where environmentally destructive practices are common.
The complex and lengthy supply chains make it difficult to track fishery management, farm methods, and labor practices. It can also result in excess greenhouse gases being emitted as the shrimp travels around the world. For example, a bag of wild-caught Argentine red shrimp for sale at Giant in Maryland was labeled as a product of Argentina and processed in Thailand, meaning it had traveled from South America to Asia to North America.
However, Fisherman’s Wharf partners with leading seafood sustainability organizations to ensure that their seafood is responsibly sourced. This suggests that they have rigorous standards for their suppliers and may have a more transparent supply chain than other shrimp brands.
Ultimately, while it may be difficult to trace the exact origin of Fisherman’s Wharf shrimp, consumers can trust that the brand is committed to sustainability and responsible sourcing.
The Importance Of Choosing Sustainable Seafood Options
Choosing sustainable seafood options is crucial for protecting our oceans and ensuring that future generations have access to healthy and abundant seafood. Overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices have led to the depletion of many fish populations, causing irreparable harm to ocean ecosystems.
By choosing sustainably sourced seafood, we can help reduce the pressure on our fragile fisheries and promote responsible fishing practices. Sustainable seafood is caught or farmed in ways that do not negatively impact fish populations or the environment. This includes using methods that minimize bycatch and avoid damaging ocean habitats.
When it comes to shrimp, it is important to be aware of the potential environmental and health risks associated with imported, farmed shrimp. Many farms in Asia and Latin America have poor labor conditions, use harmful chemicals, and cause environmental damage. Imported shrimp may also contain harmful bacteria or be contaminated with drugs.
On the other hand, U.S. farmed shrimp is produced under strict environmental laws and regulations, making it a better choice than imported shrimp. However, not all U.S. shrimp farms are equal, so it’s important to look for shrimp that are sustainably farmed in closed systems away from coastal areas.