Artisanal shrimp aquaculture is in a disease-induced crisis of lost production, into which are falling farms, gene pools adapted to farms, and small-hold farming as a way of life. The immediate cause is biological: rising levels of inbreeding and an exceptionally strong, positive relationship between inbreeding and disease which is described here. The root cause is social: a nexus of human behavior in which breeders protect their intellectual property by generating inbreeding (which is expressed only when broodstock is "copied"), local hatcheries sell copied, inbred shrimp to farmers, and farmers suffer the consequences. The likely outcome is replacement of small-hold shrimp farms by capital-intensive corporate aquaculture over vast areas of Asia, North Africa, the Middle East and the Americas. Alternative outcomes in which artisanal shrimp farming does survive are conceivable, but measures to implement them are neither in place, encouraged nor contemplated by the responsible agencies.
For more information see the paper Inbreeding and disease in tropical shrimp aquaculture: a reappraisal and caution.
Introductory slide screenshot reproduced with permission from Intrafish.com.
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