The rise and fall of the shrimp supply chain in Vietnam's Tam Giang Lagoon: is privatisation to blame?
The area of shrimps farmed in Tam Giang Lagoon expanded at an average rate of 400% each year from 1995 to 2004. After peaking at 4,000ha in 2004, the area fell steadily to 2,700ha in 2008. An exploratory investigation of the shrimp supply chain conducted in 2009 revealed that the local industry had succumbed to environmental risk following persistent and widespread outbreaks of disease in the Lagoon. These outbreaks have been attributed to water pollution, which - in turn - has been linked to the rapid growth of shrimp production. This growth was triggered by increased earnings in shrimp farming, and then facilitated by unregulated privatisation of lagoon resources. At first glance, this Coasian view of institutional change appears to explain the deterioration in water quality and subsequent destabilisation of the local shrimp industry. Privatisation encouraged shrimp farmers to adopt more intensive production methods that generated more waste. In the absence of zoning, the earthen walls and fine nets used by farmers to privatise the Lagoon blocked natural waterways causing the waste to accumulate and overload the absorptive capacity of the local ecosystem. This argument has prompted retrospective zoning and proposals to remove all net enclosures. While there is certainly merit in zoning to keep the Lagoon’s natural waterways clear, this paper contends that pollution abatement policy should focus not on shrimp farmers’ exclusive (private) rights to the lagoon bed but rather on their inclusive (open) rights to the lagoon water.... [Show full abstract]