Tsunami, Mangroves and Market Economy
Sunday, 16 January 2005 00:45
This interesting article on the relationship between the damage caused by the Tsunami, and the destruction of coastal mangroves for shrimps, is interesting and has some interesting numbers on the relative economic benefits from shrimping, and damages from the tsunami.
Devinder Sharma via Simpolicies list
The magnitude of the disaster was only exacerbated by the neoliberal economic policies that pushed economic
growth at the expense of human life...
Since the 1960s, the Asian sea-coast region has been plundered by the large
industrialised shrimp firms that brought environmentally-unfriendly
aquaculture to its sea shores. Shrimp cultivation, rising to over 8 billion
tonnes a year in the year 2000, had already played havoc with the fragile
The expansion of shrimp farming was at the cost of tropical mangroves --
amongst the world's most important ecosystems. Each acre of mangrove forest
destroyed results in an estimated 676 pounds loss in marine harvest.
Mangrove swamps have been nature's protection for the coastal regions from
the large waves, weathering the impact of cyclones, and serving as a nursery
for three-fourth of the commercial fish species that spend part of their
life cycle in the mangrove swamps. Mangroves in any case were one of the
world's most threatened habitats but instead of replanting the mangrove
swamps, faulty economic policies only hastened its disappearance. Despite
warning by ecologists and environmentalists, the World Bank turned a deaf
Let us now look at the comparative advantage of protecting environment and
thereby reducing the havoc from the growth-oriented market economy. Having
grown tenfold in the last 15 years, shrimp farming is now a $9 billion
industry. It is estimated that shrimp consumption in North America, Japan
and Western Europe has increased by 300 per cent within the last ten years.
The massive wave of destruction caused by the Dec 26 tsunami in 11 Asian
countries alone has surpassed the economic gain that the shrimp industry
claims to have harvested by several times. With over 1,50,000 people dead,
the staggering social and economic loss will take some time to be
(read the full article)
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