Approximately 2.2 million seahorses are caught in trawl nets every year.
The majority of the shrimp (also known as prawns) that is sold in supermarkets and restaurants is caught by fish trawlers or cultivated in shrimp farms. Every year, shrimp fishing and farming destroy large swaths of coastal marine habitat, depriving seahorses and other marine animals of the seagrasses and mangroves on which they depend.
Trawling is the most destructive human activity affecting the world's oceans. Each year, trawlers drag an area of seabed twice the size of the continental United States. Put in another context, the total area of seabed trawled each year is nearly 150 times the area of forest that is clearcut.
Shrimp trawling is particularly destructive. Trawlers sweep large nets along the ocean bottom, catching shrimp but also everything else in their path, tearing up the seafloor and delicate marine ecosystems in the process.
For every kilogram (pound) of shrimp on our plates, an average of 10 kgs (pounds) of other marine life is unintentionally caught, only to be turned into fishmeal or dumped overboard dead or dying.
Project Seahorse’s latest trade surveys reveal that shrimp trawling affects seahorse populations in 18 countries around the globe, primarily in Asia and Latin America, but also the USA.
Shrimp farming has destroyed thousands of miles of coastal habitats around the world — particularly mangrove forests, which are nursery grounds to many species of fish, and home to many seahorses. The cultivation ponds are a source of coastal pollution and can impact local communities which depend on fishing for their livelihood.
Shrimp farming is undertaken largely in Asia and Latin America, regions with the highest diversity of seahorse species, and the highest proportion of threatened seahorses.
Avoid eating farmed or trawled shrimp. Sourcing them from certified organic farms is one way to enjoy responsibly.
Consumer guides can help point you in the right direction:
Environmental Justice Foundation's reports: