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CREED Paper #19: The Shrimp Aquaculture Sector in Thailand: A Review of Economic, Environmental and Trade Issues

Author(s) Direk Patmasiriwat, Onno Kuik, Sunil Pednekar
Date 1998-10-01
Theme(s) None
Method(s) None
Serie(s) Creed Working Papers


Shrimp farming in Thailand has become a multi-billion dollar industry and a major export earner. Thailand is now the world's leading exporter and the largest producer of Black Tiger prawns, and supplies 20 percent of the world trade in shrimp and prawn. While the rapid growth of shrimp farming in Thailand has led to an economic boom, especially in the coastal provinces of the Eastern and Southern regions, there is doubt about the success of the industry long-term. Shrimp farming can be characterised as a boom-and-bust industry, where the money earned in the booms have not necessarily 'trickled down' to traditional coastal communities. Intensive shrimp farming causes negative environmental and socio-economic impacts: marine shrimp farming has encroached upon about 17 percent of Thailand's mangrove forest area and environmental pollutants such as nitrogen, phosphorus, suspended solids, chemical and drugs, and antibiotic substances, not only pollute off-site environments, but they also cause on-site pollution, threatening the long-term sustainability of the sector. The Thai shrimp industry also faces threats from Northern consumers concerned for their health and the environment. If the shrimp industry cannot respond to these all the challenges in an effective manner, its future prospects may be bleak. On the other hand, if the industry can make the transition to more sustainable production, its comparative advantage in the international market could even be enhanced vis-à-vis less sustainable competitors.


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