Prawns


Latin names: Penaeus vanname, P. monodon


Common names: Vannamei, Pacific White, Whiteleg & Black Tiger Prawns, Shrimp

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Farmed

Region:
Imported, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Malaysia

Key Facts

  • Prawns are mainly farmed in China, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.
  • Vast areas of coastal habitat have been destroyed to create prawn farms, including extensive mangrove habitats, which are key nursery areas for fish and provide coastal buffering against storms.
  • Effluent management is generally poor, resulting in high nutrient pollution and disease transfer from prawn farms to wild native prawn populations.
  • The commonly farmed whiteleg prawn is not native to Asia, and escapees from farms have displaced native prawns in the wild.

More information

  • Thailand, China, Vietnam & Malaysia (31,919t of prawns imported in 2015-16)

Prawns are mainly farmed in China, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. Vast areas of these countries have been developed into prawn farms, which has resulted in widespread destruction of mangroves and coastal areas. Mangroves act as nurseries for fish and shelter coastal areas from storms. In Thailand between 1961 and 1997, over 30% of mangrove forests were destroyed and replaced by prawn farms. In Vietnam this impact is even greater, with 50% of mangrove forests converted into farms over the past 40 years.

Effluent management from prawn farms is generally poor, resulting in nutrient pollution of surrounding areas that can alter natural ecosystem function; for example, in some cases naturally occurring species can no longer survive in these areas due to altered environmental conditions. Farms are generally situated in coastal areas and where wastewater is discharged untreated. Diseases that originate within prawn farms can spread easily into wild prawn populations.

In addition, prawns are able to escape from farms and live in the wild. The commonly farmed whiteleg prawn is not native to Asia, but large numbers have escaped from farms into waterways in Thailand, which has displaced native prawn species.