Last update:

Shrimp farming, Bangladesh

The increase and the intensification of shrimp farming along the Bangladesh coast remains on the governmental agenda in spite of the industry's verified and denounced environmental and social costs


In Bangladesh, the Government, along with International financial and multinational organisations specialised in fish farming such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), promoted and introduced shrimp farming as a commercial activity that can raise the economic status of the country. Shrimp industry became the second largest foreign currency earner after garment production. However, the increase in shrimp aquaculture farms, which has resulted in the destruction of entire natural ecosystems and local economies based on agriculture and fishing, faces opposition from local communities and environmental organisations. As for instance, the salinisation of the soils decreases the fertility of the agricultural lands and it also provokes health problems among the population. The Environmental Justice Foundation, based in London, has also been denouncing for years the poor working conditions of the shrimp farms’ operatives. Still the trend in favor of this industry remains sustained by the collaboration between Bangladesh authorities and international organizations. In 2015, the Bangladesh Department of Fisheries together with the FAO announced a new project development of $ 38 million for increasing the saline water availability in shrimp enclosures « in Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat and Cox's Bazar districts ». 

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Shrimp farming, Bangladesh
State or province:Chittagong Division, Khulna district
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Deforestation
Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Aquaculture and fisheries
Specific commodities:Shrimps
Project Details and Actors
Project details

An annual production of 58,000 tons and a 10.8 million people work force.

See more
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1988
Company names or state enterprises:Local investors
Relevant government actors:USAID - USA, Bangladesh Department of Fisheries
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)
Asian Development Bank (ADB)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Karunamoyee Martyr - Observance Committee Day, Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) - UK, MAP - Thailand, Solidarity Center - USA, Farming Community of the 'Shrimp Region', Nijera Kori, Asia Solidarity Against Industrial Aquaculture
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Air pollution, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Genetic contamination, Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Other Environmental impactssalinisation of water, mangroves' disappearance
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactschild labor
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Institutional changes
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Proposal and development of alternatives:The stop of the shrimp farming and the restoration of the area, giving back the lands to their initial owners.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The shrimp farming is still the main economic activity in Bangladesh. Although the Government enacted a law, in September 2000, prohibiting the indiscriminate collection of shrimp larvae, illegal collection in rivers and coastal areas of the country continues every year.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Syed Mahmood Anwar. Effect of Shrimp Culture on Ecology in the Coastal Areas of Bangladesh, 2003

Globalization and Indigenous Peoples in Asia. Nathan, D., Kelkar, Govind, Walter, P., Ed. SAGE PUBLICATIONS, 2004
[click to view]

Impossibly Cheap: Abuse and Injustice in Bangladesh’s Shrimp Industry, Environmental Justice Foundation Report, January 2014
[click to view]

Disease prevention and health management in Coastal Shrimp Culture, FAO UN, Bangkok, 1997
[click to view]

Smash and Grab: Corruption, conflict and Human Rights Abuse in shrimp Industry, Environmental Justice Foundation, March 2003
[click to view]

Promotion of Small-scale Shrimp and Prawn Hatcheries in India and Bangladesh, FAO, Bay of Bengal Programme, 1994
[click to view]

Working Together for Responsible & Eco-friendly Shrimp Farming in Bangladesh, S. Jahangir Hasan Masum, December 2008
[click to view]

Economic Prospects as well as Human Rights Violation at Shrimp Farming: A study based in south west coastal region of Bangladesh, Tanvir Alam Shahi Md., Shifuzzaman Lasker, Journal of Humanities and Social Science, Volume 1, Issue 1, pages 45-49
[click to view]

Bangladesh Organic Shrimp Farming, Shrimp News International, 12/01/2014
[click to view]

Fortune and peril in Bangladesh's shrimp industry, 13/08/2015
[click to view]

Bangladesh takes up $38m project to develop shrimp farming infrastructure, UndercurrentNews, 20/03/2015
[click to view]

The Bangladesh shrimp farmers facing life on the edge, J. Lovatta, The Guardian, 17/02/2016
[click to view]

National Aquaculture Sector Overview: Bangladesh, Fisheries andAquaculture Department, FAO
[click to view]

Report on Karunamoi Sardar, a woman killed on 7 Nov. 1990 in Harinkhola village demonstrating against the shrimp industry
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Video 'Murky waters: shrimp farming in Bangladesh'
[click to view]

Impossibly Cheap: Abuse and Injustice in Bangladesh’s Shrimp Industry, Environmental Justice Foundation Film,
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Lucie Greyl
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:454
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.