Measured by environmental impact, a humble shrimp cocktail could be the most costly part of a typical restaurant meal, scientists said Friday.
If the seafood is produced on a typical Asian fish farm, a 100-gram (3.5 ounce) serving "has an ecosystem carbon footprint of an astounding 198 kilograms (436 pounds) of CO2," biologist J. Boone Kauffman said.
A one-pound (454-gram) bag of frozen shrimp produces one ton of carbon dioxide, said Kauffman, who is based at Oregon State University and conducts research in Indonesia.
He told a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that he developed the comparison to help the public understand the environmental impact of land use decisions.
Kauffman said 50 to 60 percent of shrimp farms are located in tidal zones in Asian countries, mostly on cleared mangrove forests.
"The carbon footprint of the shrimp from this land use is about 10-fold greater than the land use carbon footprint of an equivalent amount of beef produced from a pasture formed from a tropical rainforest," wrote Kauffman in a paper, not including emissions from farm development, feeds, supplements, processing, storing and shipping.