LAAMU, MALDIVES—Sustainable shrimp is a very elusive catch. That was a significant element of a message from Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York, on his recent visit to Six Senses Laamu where he discussed sustainable fisheries management in Laamu Atoll.
“They look innocuous and taste great, but shrimp and prawns are sadly some of the most environmentally-damaging seafoods you can eat,” says Professor Roberts. “Bottom trawling with fine mesh nets for wild prawns causes habitat destruction and enormous losses of non-target species, many of which are threatened. In a worst case, prawn farms can destroy valuable wetlands and the animals are usually fed on wild fish caught using some of the most destructive fishing methods on the planet.”
Professor Roberts says, “Until there are truly sustainable alternatives available, there is no question that we should consider avoiding eating shrimp and prawns. Whether wild or farmed, they are produced at immense cost to the environment and other wildlife.”
As of September 2018, Six Senses Laamu will no longer serve shrimp or prawns in either its guest restaurants or staff canteen. This will amount to an annual reduction of around 13,227 pounds (6,000 kilograms) in shrimp and prawn purchases. This represents a small dent in the global demand, but a powerful statement in sustainability.
Shrimp, Pawns Will Not be Missed
Stefan Goechke, Executive Chef, says he welcomes the challenge of adapting the resort’s menus so that guests won’t even notice the absence of prawns. “My team is working on some exciting new dishes to delight our guests. We also have a variety of sustainable seafood options featured on the menu, such as fish caught by local fishermen right here in Laamu Atoll, that don’t carry the same environmental price tag.”
Professor Roberts has commended on the move, calling it, “Courageous and principled. It puts Six Senses Laamu firmly at the forefront of global efforts to achieve sustainability in seafood.”
Since 2016, Six Senses Laamu has partnered with Blue Marine Foundation, of which Professor Roberts is a trustee, to increase the sustainability of grouper fisheries in the Maldives. Blue Marine Foundation is now seeking to establish a locally managed marine protected area in Laamu Atoll in consultation with government and community leaders. The goal is to protect areas important for the aggregation of spawning groupers and other vulnerable marine life.
Marteyne van Well, General Manager of Six Senses Laamu, says the resort very much welcomes advice such as this on marine conservation, while appreciating that these seafood items might be missed by some guests. “We are constantly learning from visiting guests, practitioners and experts from the culinary world to wellness and marine science. The resort grows and evolves by absorbing the invaluable knowledge from our guests, which inspires us to keep improving. Our partnerships with international NGOs and their expertise are crucial to achieving our goals in sustainability and we hope to, in turn, be able to contribute and share knowledge to inspire others. Along the lines of James Keller’s quote, ‘a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle,’ we hope that sharing learnings for a sustainable future will outweigh the removal of shrimp and prawns on our menus.”