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Greenpeace And Coastal Communities Confront Shrimp

Greenpeace And Coastal Communities Confront Destructive Shrimp

GREENPEACE AND COASTAL COMMUNITIES CONFRONT DESTRUCTIVE SHRIMP FARMERS IN ECUADOR

Puerto Bolivar, Ecuador—23 October 2000. Greenpeace activists and crew of the Arctic Sunrise joined hundreds of people from Ecuadorian coastal communities in breaking a dike that surrounds an illegal shrimp farm in the El Oro Province of Ecuador and then reforested the area. Activists brought hundreds of picks and shovels to recover lost mangrove forest area that has been destroyed by the expanding shrimp industry in Ecuador.

During the past three decades, about half of Ecuador’s mangrove forests have been destroyed by the shrimp aquaculture industry (150,000 hectares). Shrimp farmers clearcut the mangrove forests and block the natural flow of water through the estuaries killing the rich network of life that inhabits these forests and sustains the coastal communities’ traditional way of life.

“This illegal shrimp farm represents the total lack of law enforcement in this country,” said Mike Hagler, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace International. “While Ecuador has laws to protect its mangroves, the expansion of the industry continues and the people whose lives are being destroyed have been forced to take the law into their own hands to save their communities and the environment.”

A moratorium on mangrove destruction was declared by the Government of Ecuador in 1994 by presidential decree. According to that decree and taking into consideration the official statistics, of the 207,000 hectares of shrimp ponds existing today, nearly three-quarters are illegal.

Greenpeace and the communities fighting against destructive shrimp farming have demanded that the Ecuadorian Government impose a moratorium on shrimp farm expansion, shut down all of the illegal shrimp farms, and impose heavy fines on the illegal operators to pay for restoration of the mangrove ecosystems that they destroyed.

Apart from the potentially irreversible damage to coastal biodiversity and productive fisheries in tropical coastal countries around the world, the destruction of mangrove ecosystems by shrimp farms in Latin America and Asian countries displaces thousands whose only hope for survival is to migrate to urban centres, or overseas to Europe and the United States.

Not all community members are willing to leave their homelands. “My hope for the future is to stay in my place of origin,” said Genaro Perea, a local community leader and activist. “I’m willing to give my life to save these lands. I need for my children and grand children to know the mangroves. I don’t want mangroves to become a lost part of history,” Perea concluded. - - - - - - - - For more information contact: Elmer Lopez or Gina Sanchez in Ecuador ++593 9 204 191 Matthew Gianni in Netherlands ++ 31 20 523 6279

end

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