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Thailand has been the world's largest exporter of cultured shrimp since 1991. Despite problems with poor environmental conditions and disease outbreaks that led to the failure and abandonment of numerous farms along the coast, Thai shrimp production has remained high. A primary factor has been the establishment of low salinity shrimp farming for black tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) in areas much further inland from the coast than once thought feasible. The rapid development of low salinity culture in freshwater areas that are predominantly used for paddy rice cultivation, however, now represents a major land and water management challenge. The debate over the potential environmental impacts of inland shrimp farming revolves around three key questions: i) the ability of so-called "closed" production systems to minimize environmental impacts, ii) the capacity of the Thai government to enforce environmental protection regulations, and iii) the potential emergence of cumulative environmental impacts. This paper concludes that a ban on inland shrimp farming is a prudent measure, needed to protect soil and water quality in freshwater areas.
Ambio © 2000 Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences