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Shrimp Farming in Muisne, Ecuador

The longstanding local mobilization of Muisne, supported by a rich woven network, couldn't prevent the destruction of the mangroves their livelihood relies on.


From the mid 1980s the set up and expansion of intensive shrimp farms in the Muisne Canton, a coastal province of northern Esmeraldas, was strongly opposed by locals - over 25,000 inhabitants - and environmental associations engaged in defending the mangrove ecosystem. The intensive farming practices were both implemented by illegal unauthorized and legal facilities. The mangroves were the main source of livelihood for communities and residents until being almost entirely destroyed by the completion of shrimp cultivation ponds. Among the different associations, FUNDECOL was created as soon as in 1989 in order to protect the Esmeraldas’ province mangroves ecosystems. The organization was the first to coordinate the mobilization denouncing the impacts of the farms and also launching reforestation projects. The sensitization of the population about the importance of the rich ecosystem was primordial.  In 1998 was also founded C-Condem.

What’s more the defenders of the mangroves have been scaling-up their level of action and mobilization, networking at all scales from local and national, to regional and international levels. The first meeting gathering communities defending mangroves from different Latin-American countries happened in 1993, in Muisne. Since 2001, the Redmanglar Internacional gathers members from ten Latin-American countries and contributes to making visible at the regional and global scales the consequences from the destruction of mangroves as a regional problematic. The international environmental NGO Greenpeace has also been engaging with FUNDECOL’s reforestation projects and the NGO has also been campaigning against the intensive shrimp farming in Ecuador and world-wide. Still Ecuadorian legislation from 2008 and 2010 legalized the industrial farming practices in mangroves areas.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Shrimp Farming in Muisne, Ecuador
State or province:Esmeraldas
Location of conflict:Muisne
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Aquaculture and fisheries
Specific commodities:Shrimps
Project Details and Actors
Project details

There were many ponds and each one has an average size of 10 ha. Shrimp ponds in Muisne estuary came to occupy almost 85% of the original area occupied by wetlands. After the stop of the activity 3.173 hectares of mangrove were replanted by the Muisne community.

Project area:13,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:1986
Company names or state enterprises:ERCUSA from Ecuador
Lenn Naveda from Ecuador
Legartela Cia from Ecuador
Hidalgo e Hidalgo from Ecuador
Relevant government actors:Ministry of the Environment, Ecuador, INDA - National Institute of Crop Development, Management of Natural Resources, Undersecretary of Fishing, USAID (USA), Instituto Nacional Forestal de Areas Naturales y vida silvestre (INEFAN, Ecuador)
International and Finance InstitutionsFood and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Accion Ecológica, Fundación de la Defensa Ecológica de Muisne (FUNDECOL), Muisne Canton Residents Council, Corporación Coordinadora Nacional para la Defensa del Ecosistema Manglar (C-Condem), Redmanglar Internacional para la Defensa de los Ecosistemas Marino-Costeros y la Vida Comunitaria (RMI), Accion Ecologica
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
Social movements
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
New legislation
An epidemic virus decimated the shrimp production and the companies shut down. However, shrimp farming has increased again after 2000 in Ecuador.
Development of alternatives:Stop the intensive farming of shrimps and replanting the mangroves. Support subsistence-based economy, communal tourism.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The increase in the shrimp farming activity stopped due to a epidemic of virus, not because of its impacts or the people protests. Most mangroves disappeared in Muisne as elsewhere in ths coast of Ecuador but there are attempts to replanting.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Resolution N.047
[click to view]

ILO 169 COnvention

Decrees 1391 & 261 from 2008 & 2010, lagalize shrimp farms between 50 hectares and 250 hectares
[click to view]

Agreement N.080 from the Envirionment Ministry
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Resistencia fecunda en agrobiodiversidad, Friends of the Earth, 2002
[click to view]

Conflictos socio-ambientales en el Ecuador. A. Granda, Accion Ecologica, 2001
[click to view]

Programa Frida, C-Condem, from 12/2008 to 10/2009
[click to view]

Ecuador: A poem for the women of the mangroves, Linver Nazareno, WRM
[click to view]

Posicion de Redmanglar Internacional ante Rio+20 - “La defensa de los territorios marino costeros ante las llamadas economías verdes”
[click to view]

Latin America: Redmanglar International Assembly, World Rainforest Movement, October 2007
[click to view]

Manglares - Sustento local versus ganancia empresarial, World Rainforest Movement, 2002
[click to view]

Statement on Certification, Meeting of the Board of Redmanglar, Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador, 5/11/2003
[click to view]

La Huella del consumo españolde langostinos de cultivo, Greenpeace Espana, 2003
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

18 000 hectáreas de mangle, taladas en Muisne, Boletin C-Condem, 30/03/2009
[click to view]

Actividades de defensa y concientización marcarán Día Internacional de los Manglares, Adital, 25/07/2012
[click to view]

Manifesto dia Manglar, 23/07/2015
[click to view]

Unidos en defensa de los manglares, Aldeah, 05/02/2011
[click to view]

Presentacion de Redmanglar Internacional,
[click to view]

Magrove Description - Ecuador, FAO
[click to view]

C-Condem website
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

"Y si se acaba el manglar?", Palabra Suelta, 27/04/2010

Part 1/6
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Lucie Greyl
Last update09/02/2016
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