By Jorge Varela (June 2010)
The news that Central American shrimp will no longer pay import tariffs into the European Union has filled with glee the producers of this crustacean in Central America, and has worried the defenders of the marine and coastal ecosystems.
This happened despite a recent tour in three European countries (April 28- May 4, 2010) by grassroot organizations grouped under the REDMANGLAR of Latin American and the Asian Network Against Cultivated Shrimp in conjunction with European Union (EU) and U.S. NGOs in an effort to, among other objectives, define a strategy for the EU to reduce the consumption of shrimp cultivated in the tropical and subtropical areas of the planet. This way, they hope to reduce the environmental, social, and economic impacts that this type of aquaculture produces against biodiversity and the environment in general.
MEETING OF NGOs, IMPORTERS AND SELLERS OF SHRIMP IN AMSTERDAM
The REDMANGLAR delegation, took this opportunity to denounce that in the first months of 2010, during the dry season, shrimp farmers expanded their holdings with impunity on Mangrove Protected Areas and Ramsar Site #1000 in Honduras. They destroyed, with the complicity of the Honduran government, hundreds of acres of coastal wetlands.
One of the delegations participating in the tour asked the French Green Party to petition before the EU an increase in the import tax of shrimp originating in the South to increase the price of the product to the European consumer. This increase will force Europeans to more closely pay the true cost of shrimp and will serve to decrease its consumption.
At the same time, the Honduran shrimp industry announced a meeting between the new head of state Pepe Lobo and the UE with the outcome that Honduran shrimp will enter Europe free of tariffs (Spain, 19 May). This means that Europeans will continue to consume shrimp without paying its true cost and may even increase their consumption since they buy it so cheaply. The shrimp industry receives this incentive as a stimulus. They will increase their profits and continue to expand with impunity, as they have done until now, over coastal wetlands not only in Honduras but in all of Central America because they will be able sell their product as if it was produced in Europe. It does not seem to matter to Europeans the damage caused to the Earth’s climate, biodiversity, and the economy of the wretched people from the South.
The results could be different if the EU conditions such incentives to the punishment of environmental and social crimes, to the respect of Honduran laws, international agreements, and protected areas, to a real moratorium on the expansion of shrimp over wetlands, to the enforcement of the shrimp industry’s own code of conduct, etc., but we believe those conditions are left for declarations of poetic resolutions in international conferences or to promote the business of “Green Certifications” for shrimp.
Traslated by: AlexisAguilar