Unlike other shrimping nations, the vast majority of US shrimp is caught, not farmed. Most of it comes from the Gulf of Mexico...well, until now.
But that's hardly the problem with the shrimping industry. The problem lies within their methods.
Shrimp farming, like any fish farming - or farming in general, - is dirty. In the sense that farms produce massive amounts of waste. Shrimp farms are usually located on coasts and will drain their wastes off into the water supply, contaminating surrounding environments and communities. Bacteria and infection are common, and just as common are toxic "medicines" like chloramphenicol (a carcinogen) and sodium triphosphate (a neurotoxin). Yummy.
Shrimp fishing is just as bad. The traditional method is trawling, which essentially scrapes the seafloor clean of whatever was there. Sure they catch the shrimp, but they also catch everything else. This is called "bycatch" and it is the capture of non-target species, which are usually left to die while the shrimpers collect their bounty.
"Unfortunately neither fishing nor farming is a truly sustainable way to produce shrimp. Farming is responsible for habitat destruction and is often done cheaply, producing a lower quality product, while trawling for wild shrimp is harmful to the oceanic environment and its inhabitants. So which is the lesser of the two evils? There's no easy answer."
Fortunately, this article provides a lovely list - with links - on what you can do to become a more eco-conscious shrimp eater. If nothing else, at least check out the list. There's some good stuff there! And don't forget to buy the rest of your seafood sustainably too!
Full article here (Huffington Post)