Chapter 4: Analysis of Shrimp Farm Expansion and Mangrove Conversion in Thailand, 1979–1996
4. Analysis of shrimp farm expansion and mangrove conversion in Thailand, 1979–96 Edward B. Barbier and Mark Cox INTRODUCTION As previous chapters have made claim, there are many reasons for the destruction of mangrove forests, including increasing population pressure, coastal development, mining, conversion to salt ponds and agriculture, and overharvesting of the forests. The largest factor in recent years has been the expansion of aquaculture ponds into mangrove forests (see also Aksornkoae et al. 1986; Spalding et al. 1997; WRI 1996). Shrimp production has been the primary aquaculture activity and has been responsible for mangrove deforestation in many countries, but is especially evident in Thailand and other Asian countries (Kongkeo 1997). Mangrove swamps are considered very suitable for shrimp farming because the areas are flooded with brackish, stagnant water that is ideal for aquaculture (Hassanai 1993). The problem of mangrove conversion has been exacerbated in recent years given the growing importance of shrimp farming to the export earnings of tropical countries. For example, in Bangladesh, shrimp farming contributes 8 per cent of total export earnings (Raha and Alam 1997). In Thailand, the total value of export earnings for shrimp in the late 1990s was around US$1–2 billion annually (Jitsanguan et al. 1999; Tokrisna 1998; Vandergeest et al. 1999). This preference for short-term exploitative economic gains, rather than longer-term sustainable exploitation, has led to massive mangrove loss worldwide (see Chapter l). In many countries and regions, mangrove deforestation is contributing to fisheries decline, degradation of clean water supplies,...
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