After nearly five years of its initial convening by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in partnership with the Global Food Traceability Center (IFT), the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST) has now transitioned since October 3rd from an NGO-convened platform into a permanent organization that is self-sustaining, rooted in industry, and open to broad stakeholder involvement.
Conversion-Free Farmed Shrimp
As the footprint for farmed shrimp production has rapidly expanded, it has often done so at the cost of mangrove forests in some major producing countries. Half of all mangroves worldwide have been lost since the 1940s, with farmed shrimp production accounting for 30% to 50% of the losses. While clearing mangroves for farming is illegal in many producing countries, including Thailand, India, and Ecuador, the practice still occurs in some critical geographies and continues to be a pressing issue.
Preserving these ecosystems and their functions is critical to mitigating the effects of climate change, protecting wildlife, and ensuring community livelihoods. Mangrove forests are a vital coastal ecosystem that stabilizes shorelines in the intertidal zones of sub-tropical countries.
Beyond the thousands of rare, iconic, and threatened species that inhabit them, mangroves also provide many valuable ecological functions, including filtering water, protecting shores from erosion, and serving as a natural barrier against storms. They also store three to four times more carbon than tropical forests and may be one of our best defenses against climate change. It is critical that the future expansion of farmed shrimp does not drive the loss of additional intact mangrove ecosystems.