aquaculture | January 13, 2020

Shrimp farming poses a jumbo risk for investors

Amy Cortese
ImpactAlpha Editor

Amy Cortese

ImpactAlpha, Jan. 13 – Quick, do you pick beef or shrimp if you are concerned about greenhouse gas emissions per per kilo? Surprise. Once land use change is factored into the shrimp life cycle, the tiny crustaceans out-emit cattle on a per kilogram of production basis, according to a new report by Planet Tracker. Mangrove destruction for shrimp farming may not be as high profile an issue as deforestation in the Amazon for cattle farming, but it’s potentially more harmful. 

Battered habitat

The $45 billion shrimp industry is responsible for 30% of mangrove deforestation and coastal land-use change across Southeast Asia. As a percentage of total habitat, mangroves are being destroyed at five times the rate of rainforests. Shrimp farming also degrades mangrove ecosystems through water pollution and sludge dumping. 

Material risk

Mangrove deforestation poses regulatory, reputational and financial risk for the farmed shrimp industry and its investors, the authors contend. One looming threat: a potential European Union ban on deforestation-linked commodities. 

Lack of transparency

Only four of the top 27 publicly listed shrimp farming companies identified by Planet Tracker disclose their shrimp-specific revenue and operating margins. “Understanding the exposure of these companies to environmental risks is key for investors forecasting revenue, costs and profit margins,” said Planet Tracker’s Matthew McLuckie.