And On His Farm He Had Some Fish

Part C: Change of Scenery

Satellite image of shrimp farms along the coast of Honduras. Photo courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

The number of coastal aquaculture facilities has increased dramatically over the last 35 years. These facilities are producing millions of tons of seafood, helping to alleviate the effects of dwindling fish populations in the oceans. However, the construction and maintenance of these facilities is not without drawbacks. Natural habitats are being altered or destroyed and pristine coastlines are becoming overdeveloped and polluted.

1. Watch this brief video about mangroves to understand the importance of the forests.

Inside the Mangrove Forest. If video does not play, visit Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation.

Checking In

Answer the following questions to check your understanding of the information contained in the video about mangroves.

  • What are some benefits of mangrove forests?
  • What amount of mangrove forests have been lost globally?

2. Go to Earth Observatory's before-and-after images of shrimp farm development in Honduras.

3. Read through the story to learn about the events responsible for the differences in the three images.

Checking In

Answer the following questions to check your understanding of the information contained in the article about the impacts of shrimp farming in Honduras.

  • What features in the images are represented by beige and gray colors? dark green? brown and light green?
  • What do shrimp farms look like in the images?

4. Open Google Earth and using the Search box, navigate to 13.0N, 87.2W, the location of the Honduras shrimp farms just north of the border of Nicaragua. This is the area you've just looked at in the NASA images.

5. Zoom out so you can see most of the farms and coast, similar to the images you saw before. An altitude of about 20 miles or 27 km should be enough.

6. You're now going to explore the historical changes over time on your own. Click View in the menu bar. Then click Historical Imagery.

A toolbar in the upper left of the map screen should appear. Use the slider to scroll through images of this site from the most recent satellite image available to the oldest satellite image in December 1984.

7. Use the polygon tool to measure the area the shrimp ponds occupy in 2016.

Checking In

Check your understanding of the information contained in the comparison images of Honduras's Pacific coast.

  • Describe how the Pacific coast of Honduras changed between 1984 and 2016.
  • Estimate the area of land occupied by shrimp ponds in the 2016 image.
  • In the reading, it was noted that in the 1990s the mangrove swamps were situated on tidal flats and set back from the mangrove fringe. By 2011, it looks like some ponds crowded right up to the waterways. Compare the image from 2011 and the image for 2016. How would you describe the mangrove situation now and what that means for the area?

Farmed whiteleg shrimp is a primary aquaculture production in Honduras; and in 2013, the country produced approximately 27,000 metric tons. The farmed shrimp industry is also large the Southeast Asian countries of Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand where whiteleg and blackstripe shrimp are grown and mangrove loss has similarly been a problem.

8. Watch this video to learn more about Vietnamese shrimp farmers replanting mangroves and making changes to try to farm more sustainably.

Mangrove reforestation in Vietnam from DW News

Checking In

Answer the following questions to check your understanding of the information contained in the video clip about Vietnamese shrimp farmers.

  • How do restoring mangroves help these farmers?

9. Watch this short video about shrimp farming in Iowa.

The Shrimp Shed, from Iowa PBS. If video doesn't play, visit Iowa PBS.

Stop and Think

3: What are some similarities in the farming of shrimp for the Vietnamese farmer and the Iowan farmer? Consider methods they employ to maintain their aquaculture's low impact on the local environment.

Optional Extensions

Pushing Vietnam's shrimp industry toward sustainability

Seafood Watch informational packet about Honduras Farmed Whiteleg Shrimp

The Shrimp Industry Is Dirty. Can New Farming Technology Clean It Up?


Mangroves and shrimp farms in Ecuador

RDM Aquaculture in Fowler, IN

Planting mangroves in Thailand from DW News