Thai farmers turn to mangroves to aid in eco-friendly shrimp farms

Since the ’70s, Thailand’s governments have urged the citizens of the Kingdom to invest and develop intensive and semi-intensive shrimp farms, and the initiative quickly catched. Many farmers turned to shrimp production, and in a couple of years Thailand became the world’s third largest shrimp exporter. But the creation of somany ponds for shrimp production meant a downfall in other directions: thousands of hectares of mangroves were put down in order to make room for the shrimp farms.

On the long term, the strategy proved to be disastrous for the ecosystem in the areas where it was employed: mangroves are known to act as a so-called doctor, purifying the waters and housing dozens of species of marine animals. The shrimp farms became unstable and many producers woke up one day to discover their shrimp dead, floating in the ponds.

“The shrimp used to get sick, and I lost all of them several times. Some years, I could make a lot of money; in others, I could lose everything,” explains Noppadol, a shrimp farmer living in Kanchanadit, a district in the province of Surat Thani in Southern Thailand.

mangroveAnother danger to the ecosystem came from the antibiotics, fertilisers, disinfectants and pesticides used in intensive shrimp farms. Sometimes, the contaminated waters were dumped in rivers and other natural streams of water without being treated, causing environmental disasters. The solution was at hand, though, and with some help and good advice from neighbours, farmers managed to balance the hazard of losing their production by planting mangroves. The trees are essential in everyday life, say specialists, who urge locals to do their best for the recovery of mangrove forests.

“We often refer to mangroves as the supermarket for the local people because, there, they have some building supplies, food supplies, shelter and medicines. So people have been traditionally relying on the mangroves for all those things in the local fishing communities,” said Jim Enright, the Asia coordinator for the Mangrove Action Project, an NGO that promotes the recovery of mangrove forests.

According to a report from the Environmental Justice Foundation, shrimp aquacultures have been a major contributor to global mangrove forest loss, and in a number of countries, it is considered to be the biggest threat to these ecosystems. The report estimates that as much as 38 percent of recent mangrove loss may be due to shrimp farm development.

About The Author

David Nataf started his career as co-founder of Net Development, a leading French web integrators, employing 80 people. After the merger of Net Development with Reef publisher, David joined the law firm, Jean-Pierre Millet, with the defense of computer attackers and victimes specialty ("hackers") in cases between different organizations such as NSA or other members of the international interception 'Echelon' network from the UKUSA treaty or the US Air Force. He is the author of several books on information warfare, consultant for the European Parliament as an expert in computer security (SSI) and electromagnetic signals intelligence (SIGINT). David Nataf successively launched several start-ups of the Internet in the field of paperless technologies termination of contracts online (""); online subscription to early stage fundraising foreshadowing the model will retain more later the platform "", or free roaming mobile operators (MVNO). Given his specialty at the cross road of anti computer crime legal advising, Internet technology, media and anti-propaganda operations, David has naturally become an actor's influence on the Web, working for a think-tank representing french defense and Aerospace. He is architecting crypto farms and masternodes for cryptocurrencies in Asia and Israel technological parks. He graduated in Law from the Faculty of Paris, is a passionate graduated gemologist by Gemological Institute of America "GG", Gemmological Association of Great Britain "Cert-Ga", practical daily triathlon.

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