Nurturing nature and local peoples: the story of a responsible shrimp farm
A sustainability trendsetter on many counts, Omarsa Group became the world’s first shrimp farm to earn ASC certification in 2014, blazing the trail for other shrimp farms on the journey of sustainability.
As the second largest shrimp exporter in Ecuador with exports to 45 countries, 7,000 employees, and a solid, long-term commitment to environmental and social responsibility, Omarsa is making waves of positive impact.
Regenerating what was lost
Omarsa was founded in 1977 as a single 250-hectare shrimp farm and expanded over time by purchasing other nearby farms. While shrimp farming has been a notorious cause of mangrove deforestation around the world, Omarsa set about doing things differently, restoring degraded mangroves on the farms they acquired.
Mangroves represent a group of trees and shrubs that live along the coasts of tropical and subtropical regions. They range in size, with dense tangles of roots that are characteristically seen above the water level. These roots serve to create habitat and stabilize coasts from erosion.
Through their investment in mangrove rehabilitation, Omarsa promotes biodiversity conservation, re-creating essential habitat and providing protection from erosion. These efforts help to protect local communities, animals and plants from waves, tides, currents and weather. Healthy mangrove forests also purify and filter the water systems that flow through them, and they provide some of Earth’s most eﬃcient carbon storage.
Local community care
Today, Omarsa’s three shrimp farms comprise nearly one million hectares. Their operations also include three hatcheries and two processing plants.
“Sustainability is at the heart of all of our activities,” says Nilda Saldise Ravelo, Omarsa’s head of corporate social responsibility.
In addition to environmental responsibility, Omarsa adheres to ASC’s requirements for social responsibility, which include fair wages and engagement with local communities, among other factors.
Omarsa’s social responsibility commitments include creating opportunities for the people in their local area. “We give decent employment to over 7,000 people in the area, and we keep growing,” says Nilda.
Their community engagement has included teaching local housewives to sew as an employable skill, building a well and reservoir for access to fresh drinking water in the area, and providing free English classes to local children.
“By educating the people in our communities,” explains Nilda, “we are hoping that they will form and become part of Omarsa, that way ensuring that they have a better future for themselves and their families—keeping them away from drugs, away from gangs and from bad influences.”
Sustainability has been a business practice for Omarsa since their early days. ASC certification ensures they continue to progress on their journey of environmental sustainability and social responsibility—and that seafood buyers know it.
“More and more today, people care about what they eat—what is placed on their tables, on their children’s tables,” says Nilda. “ASC helps us satisfy the needs, the demands, of customers all over the world.”