Chapter 11: Comparative Returns of Mangroves for Shrimp Farming and Local Direct and Indirect Uses in Surat Thani Province
Suthawan Sathirathai and Edward B. Barbier INTRODUCTION In southern Thailand, local communities, who have traditionally utilized mangrove resources for a variety of products, ranging from fuelwood and other wood products to honey, and who have exploited coastal fisheries that benefit from the nursery and breeding ground function of mangrove habitat fisheries, believe that there is insufficient government protection of mangrove forests from conversion to shrimp ponds. There is also widespread concern over the water pollution in coastal areas that is a byproduct of intensive shrimp farming. As shrimp culture is capital-intensive and the technology is too expensive for small-scale farmers, investors in shrimp farm enterprises are generally from outside traditional coastal local communities, and very few of the returns to farming are invested locally. At the same time, local people do not have the legal right to protect mangrove forests from conversion to shrimp farming; that is, unless the Royal Forestry Department (RFD) recognizes their efforts. Some local communities that have been affected severely by the loss of mangroves have sometimes reacted violently to encroachment by shrimp farmers. Many have also begun to guard the forests themselves instead of waiting for the authorities to do something. However, there have been signs of recent shifts in policy towards actively promoting the conservation of mangroves and the participation of local communities (see Chapter 6). The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, which governs the RFD, has announced that mangrove conservation has to be taken more seriously. As a result, the RFD is considering...
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