Most of the shrimp consumed in the U.S. is imported from other countries. According to some estimates, only 10 percent of the shrimp consumed in the U.S. is caught or raised domestically.
Thailand alone accounts for more than 30 percent of the shrimp imported to the U.S, while the rest is gleaned from Central America, Vietnam, China, and Indonesia. Despite the U.S. being one of the top five seafood exporters in the world, America recently surpassed Japan as the world’s largest seafood importer.
As a result, generations of U.S. shrimpers face financial ruin because of cheap, frozen imported shrimp glutting the American market. Foreign shrimp fisherman aren’t restrained from the bycatch laws American shrimp fishermen are required to follow, so unwanted marine creatures like turtles die needlessly in their fishing nets; American shrimp fishermen are required to use Turtle Exclusion Devices to stop turtles from being caught in the nets.
Additionally, American shrimp are free of the toxins contained in imported farmed shrimp which is full of antibiotics and pesticides.
Over the past decade, illegal fishing and decreasing rainfall in Central America has decimated shrimp and lobster populations. Mario Gonzalez, the regional director of the Central American Organization of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sectors (OSPESCA) claims underreported catches compound the problem. “You can say that in Central America 50 percent of our (fishing) production goes undeclared or not reported, not only by private fishermen but also by large fisheries.”
Gonzalez adds that “of the total amount delivered to fish processing plants, approximately 20 to 30 percent is illegal or undersized.”
El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama have recently banned lobster fishing from March 1 to June 30. The four-month ban is recognized by the Regional Ordinance for the fishing grounds of Caribbean Lobster, a regulation developed by the Central American Fishing and Aquaculture Organization (OSPESCA) and signed by Central American governments in May 2009.
(Click “Next” to see Support U.S. Fisherman – Purchase Wild American Shrimp)