29 januari 2005
Dutch shrimp sector pressed for sustainable chain
Although intensive shrimp breeding seems a lucrative business for these countries, the costs are also high. Traditional fishery makes way for large-scale breeding ponds. People lose their jobs and are often forced to leave their land. Intimidation, rape, and other forms of violence disrupt life in the local communities.
Mangroves, we learned right after the tsunami, proved to be a perfect protection against the tidal waves. Unfortunately, along the coasts of many Southeast-Asian countries, this natural protection is decreasing rapidly, to make way for shrimp breeding. Parts of the Thai and Indian coasts have been transformed into a moon landscape. The local population pays a high price for the good taste of Western consumers.
Apart from the Dutch ngo's, also the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, are involved in the dialogue with the Dutch shrimp sector. These ministries have partnerships with governments, companies and advocacy groups in Indonesia, Malaysia, and soon also Vietnam, to improve the access of tropical shrimps to the European markets. These partnerships, deriving from the UN-conference on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002, not only aim at improving the product itself, but also the social and ecological aspects of the production. Dutch ngo's now take the opportunity to press for sustainability in the whole chain of production. And this chain is mighty complicated, due to its lack of transparency.
The negative aspects of shrimp breeding are known worldwide, and have spurred new initiatives. The German union of biological producers, Naturland, started breeding biological shrimps in Ecuador in 1999, and now also has suppliers of certified shrimps from Peru, Vietnam and Indonesia. In The Netherlands, importing some 30 thousand tons of shrimps a year, the Dutch consultancy Agro Eco is involved in sustainable shrimp breeding. International certification for the sustainability of shrimps, though, is not to be foreseen in the near future.
P+ Webtip: Both Ends