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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 February 2005, 18:44 GMT
Bangladeshi prawns: Your comments
Women and children using nets to catch prawns
Prawn farming is a lucrative business in Bangladesh
Millions of kilos of Bangladeshi prawns are exported every year, but as the cash rolls in, so do allegations of environmental destruction and human rights abuses.

We asked for your comments on the following:

Should we eat prawns?

How could the profits from the pink gold be distributed more fairly?

Should Bangladesh try to promote itself as a producer of organic prawns rather than adopting the intensive farming practised in countries like Thailand?

This debate is now closed. Below is a selection of your comments.

Excellent Crossing Continents on the Bangladesh prawn-framing industry, but could have done with being half an hour longer!
Owen Beith

Lucy Ash is to be commended for her report on prawn farming in Bangladesh.

She has clearly made a big effort to present a balanced account of a complex industry.

There is no doubt that prawn farms can damage agricultural land and drinking water if saltwater intrusion is not prevented.

The prevailing conditions in Bangladesh present major challenges to equitable economic development
Daniel Lee, Global Aquaculture Alliance
However, many of the other problems linked to prawn farming in the programme are general problems that cannot be blamed on shrimp farmers alone. For example: corruption; the activities of criminal gangs; ineffective law enforcement; deforestation; and the large numbers of landless poor that occupy public land without any hope of gaining title.

This is not to deny the fact that prawn farming and other types of aquaculture must be carried out in a responsible manner, but it is worth noting that the prevailing conditions in Bangladesh present major challenges to equitable economic development, whether it is driven by aquaculture, agriculture, textiles or any other kind of activity.
Daniel Lee, Standards Development, Global Aquaculture Alliance

I felt Lucy Ash's report was balanced, very informative and well-researched.

The social atrocities and injustices highlighted in the programme say more about the overall lawlessness and weak governance in Bangladesh than anything specifically sinister about its shrimp industry.

In the end, an equitable solution has to be reached between those whose lives have been adversely affected and the industrialists themselves who must uphold their share of social and environmental responsibilities.

Punishment against Bangladesh by way of sanctions or bans will only aggravate the problem
Shabbir A. Bashar, USA
The government has to facilitate the process by legislating environmental health and safety laws, publishing compensation and land allocation guidelines, providing administrative and logistic support and by providing a strong legal infrastructure.

But improving law and order costs money, and punishment against Bangladesh by way of sanctions or bans will only aggravate the problem.

A well-managed and co-ordinated effort between the government, donor agencies, environmentalists, social groups, entrepreneurs and workers can sooner turn this into an economically booming co-operative, and will ultimately result in a better quality of life for Bangladeshis.
Shabbir A. Bashar, Ph.D., San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA

I thought this was a valuable and balanced report, careful to highlight the conflicting priorities of an extremely poor country, without hiding from the very serious problems related to this industry.

This is another instance where the individual consumer and the big businesses have a choice
Steve Trent, Director, Environmental Justice Foundation
However, I remain convinced that due to consumer demand, if producers in Bangladesh and elsewhere produce shrimp even in an environmentally sustainable and socially equitable manner, the same pattern of violence, intimidation and environmental destruction will continue.

This is another instance where the individual consumer and the big businesses have a choice that will either protect or destroy the livelihoods, environment and basic human rights of many thousands of poor people.
Steve Trent, Director, Environmental Justice Foundation

The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.

Crossing Continents


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Prawns: Bangladesh's mixed blessing
16 Feb 05 |  Crossing Continents
Country profile: Bangladesh
04 Jan 05 |  Country profiles
Bangladesh prawn farmers hit back
20 May 03 |  South Asia
Prawn fishing 'plundering seas'
19 Feb 03 |  Science/Nature

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