There’s an ironic tragedy involved in eating at a Red Lobster in the Gulf Coast: Patrons, just a short distance from some of the best fishing grounds in the world, are likely eating imported shrimp from China, Indonesia, or South America. This situation hurts local fishermen and destroys the environment, but still, many people do it.
Just one acre of shrimp farm can produce from 6,000 to 18,000 pounds of shrimp in 3 to 6 months, according to Jim Carrier in Orion. That extreme output drives down the price of seafood, making it more difficult for local fishermen to make a living. Mangroves and local environments are destroyed to make way for the farms, which are heavily treated with antibiotics and chemicals to keep that many animals alive in the same place.
“If you get cheap shrimp now, it's from a turbid, pesticide-infested pond somewhere in the developing world,” Taras Grescoe told Salon.com last year, “and it's guaranteed you're contributing to the misery of all humans by buying that stuff.” Grescoe, whose book Bottomfeeder was excerpted in Utne Reader, still believes that ethical seafood is possible. For tips on how to find seafood that’s both ethical and sustainable, visit Utne Reader’s sustainable seafood project.