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Tsunami, Mangroves and Market Economy PDF Print E-mail
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 eco-systems.... 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 ear. ... 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 ascertained.
(read the full article)