[Updated] I have a fishy tale to tell… If you look out of the window as you fly into Trat airport (or any other regional coastal airport in Thailand) you’ll notice much of the land mass is actually not land, but ponds. Shrimp farming in Thailand is big business and the country has about 30% of the market and are the world’s largest exporters.
If you are in the USA or Europe, chances are you are eating Thai shrimp.
Further down our road, active and productive shrimp farms are the the main farming industries. These, like most shrimp farms, are all family owned and operated business that carry out the the day-to-day running of shrimp farming enterprises across Thailand. The shrimp and water are monitored every couple of hours. Only when it comes to harvest are paid teams of helping hands brought in to sort, weigh and pack the catch and send to the wholesalers.
The Life of Shrimp
Female shrimp lay between 100,000 to 500,000 eggs that hatch into nauplii. These nauplii metamorphosise three more times before they turn into shrimps. This whole process takes about 12 days. A full size shrimp takes a further 3 to six months to reach maturity or your dinner table.
Traditionally shrimp were harvested near mangroves on the coast but over the last 2 or 3 decades demand for low cost shrimp has seen these habitats destroyed and intensive farming in ponds under strict conditions is now the new norm.
Increased yields and demand have not come without further environmental impact. Intensely farmed shrimp are susceptible to disease. This can wipe out a shrimp farmers stock over night. I have heard of some shrimp farmers moving away from intense farming, to a close loop design system more in line with aquaponics principals where fish like talapia are introduced to create a more natural environment for the prawns. However, I haven’t see this first-hand myself yet.
I’m not a fan of shrimps myself, but I do like the look of the ponds. I would like to buy one and stock with fish for our own personal use but haven’t been successful with that to date.
We bought 1KG of fresh shrimp for 150 Baht which I’m told is a bargain. Would you pay higher prices for Thai shrimp if it was grown with less of a negative impacts on the environment?
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Shrimp Farming in Thailand