Aaron Boddy

Chief Impact Officer @ Shrimp Welfare Project
858 karmaJoined Oct 2020Working (6-15 years)
www.shrimpwelfareproject.org

Bio

Participation
3

Co-founder of Shrimp Welfare Project, which aims to improve the lives of billions of farmed shrimps

Sequences
1

Impact Roadmap

Comments
24

Topic contributions
2

Absolutely - as I've hopefully made clear above, shrimp paste is one of the biggest areas in the shrimp welfare space that we think another project could have an impact!

There are a couple of reasons why SWP is not working on it:

  • The contexts are very different
    • Our current focus projects all operate within the context of: whiteleg shrimps, in aquaculture, being globally exported/imported. 
    • Shrimp paste on the other hand, is likely to be different on all counts: Japonicus shrimps, Wild-capture fisheries, domestic Southeast Asia/Southern China markets
    • We essentially see this as requiring a different organisation with specialised knowledge
  • We decided not to abandon whiteleg shrimps altogether to instead set up a "Shrimp Paste Project"
    • We felt much more sure that whiteleg shrimps would be tractable, and tractability was very important early on, as there were a lot of unknowns
    • We think the world needs both a Shrimp Welfare Project and a Shrimp Paste Project (and likely more!), so fully pivoting from one to form the other we didn't think would make sense
    • We think our focus plays well to the co-founder's (and now the wider teams) strengths - whereas a shrimp paste org would likely benefit from co-founders with different skills and deeper cultural insights

As a final note, I think it's worth mentioning that Rethink Priorities' initial research on shrimp welfare informed the Charity Entrepreneurship team and led to our creation. We're super thankful to both and I'm really hopeful that RP's latest work leads to similar outcomes :)

Hey Angelina - thank you so much for your kind words! It’s really heartwarming to see your enthusiasm and interest in our work :)

Shrimp Size
The corporate producers we're working with supply "headless peeled shrimps" (mainly to Northern Europe) which tend to be smaller on average for this market

This is different for example to "head on, shell on shrimps", which are typically larger (and are mainly supplied to Asia and Southern Europe)

As we sign more commitments globally, we'll likely want to supply ranges per producer depending on the market they supply

Adjusting for predicted follow-through
We decided not to discount our estimates in this first model because we're not sure how different this will look in practice between other types of corporate commitments and ours (i.e. comparing "hens & cage-free", to "shrimps & stunners")

The contexts seem different enough (producers, working in aquaculture, who are being bought equipment) that we don't think we can reasonably predict how this will translate 

Our plan is that hopefully in a ~year's time we will have had some stunners in operation for long enough that we can accurately report on adherence rates, and update our numbers

Agreed - for me the biggest piece of the puzzle I don't currently understand is the cultural experience... Our volunteer writing the report is from the Philippines, so although we want the report to be global, we're hoping to have a sort of case study (maybe conduct a few interviews or something) on the Philippines to add some on-the-ground context that would be difficult to get from desk-based research alone.

Also, someone from EA Philippines also once told me that shrimp paste is often fed to whale sharks, in order to keep them present in the waters year-round to support the whale shark tourism industry, and I'm not sure how many similar examples of complicating factors like this there are...

Hi MHR! Thanks for your kind words, we're really excited about entering this next phase :)

Regarding your questions:

  1. The calculation is the same, but the number we're reporting is different, this is due to a few factors:
    1. ~4,000/$/year is the actual cost-effectiveness of our stunners program to date, not including overheads other than the cost of the stunners themselves (1B / $247.5K)
    2. ~1,500/$/year in contrast, is the minimum cost-effectiveness of our stunners program going forward, which we commit to purchasing if the producer commits to stunning a minimum of 100M shrimps per year (100M / $65,000 = ~1,500).
      1. Historically producers have committed to more than that, so we tend to say 1,500+ /$/year, because the actual number can fluctuate depending on the producer commitment
    3. And just for further clarity, SWP's overall cost-effectiveness (~1,300/$/year) is the cost-effectiveness of our stunners program to date while also factoring in SWP's overheads to date (1B / ($525K+$247.5K))
      1. It's worth noting that in future our stunners program will likely become the majority of our budget (rather than overheads), so it's likely SWP's overall cost-effectiveness will increase as a result
    4. Most of these numbers can also be seen in the Guesstimate model (except how we arrived at the ~1,500, which is instead in the stunners funding proposal)
      1. By the way, the Guesstimate model builds on our original BOTEC spreadsheet, so the 4,000 number can also be seen in Guesstimate, as well as how that changes to 1,300 once the overheads are factored in
  2. UoC stands for "Unit of Certification", basically just whatever is being certified by ASC, typically the farm itself (I've updated the linked doc now to clarify that - thanks for spotting our jargon!)
  3. There is, but unfortunately it's only available to users with a login (i.e. those who bought a ticket) - we'll email to ask if we're allowed to download and share it

Regarding shrimp paste - this is definitely something I'd be most excited for someone to work on, but as I understand it there currently are quite a number of shrimp paste alternatives on the market - both in terms of just general vegan substitutes, but also explicitly vegan shrimp paste
I don't know how widely available those alternatives are where shrimp paste is consumed the most, but my current sense is that the solution is likely more along the lines of cultural change, rather than technical innovation (though I'm sure a mix of the two would help)
Though I'm not super confident in this, and hopefully we'll be able to share more insights once our volunteer has finished the report :)

Thanks very much for this write-up MHR! We’ve recently published a “two-year update” post on the Forum, and wanted to reflect on some considerations we think most likely affect the Cost-Effectiveness of this project. Rather than including the below in that post, we thought it made sense to continue the discussion that had already started here.

  • Considerations around the Pain-Track” for this intervention, for example:
    • The intervention targets acute rather than chronic suffering. In some Pain-Tracks, Time spent suffering can overwhelmingly dominate the calculation of suffering (though this also depends on the relative intensity of the chronic suffering compared to the acute suffering).
    • Similarly, how you weigh the relative suffering of Annoying, Hurtful, Disabling, and Excruciating pains can be a deciding factor. It’s possible that these are within orders of magnitude of each other, but it’s also possible to view “Excruciating” pain as being infinitely worse than other types of pain (and similarly to Time as a factor, if Excruciating pain is weighted high enough, then any time in this state can end up dominating the overall calculation for the Pain-Track).
  • The relative welfare range of shrimps - in particular, whether the undiluted experience model of welfare is correct or not - is another consideration that can dominate cost-effectiveness calculations (largely because the number of shrimps used and killed for food is so large),
  • The likelihood that we accelerate the adoption of humane slaughter practices - both in terms of the shorter term goal of producers buying further stunners themselves, and the longer-term goal of electrical stunning becoming the norm in the industry.
    • For example, we have one producer who is committed to stunning 100M shrimps, which represents 8% of their shrimps. If the “pilot” is successful, they will likely buy further stunners to stun most (if not all) of their shrimps. This would mean our investment of $65,000 would be the first domino leading to ~1.25B shrimps being stunned per year.
    • Additionally, once a buyer has seen that it’s possible for their suppliers to implement stunners, they can be empowered to require that all of their suppliers stun their shrimps (or otherwise source from suppliers who already stun).
    • Finally, many certifiers/policymakers are unwilling to require the industry to do things until it has been relatively established. We’re unsure what the timelines of work like this might be, but believe that by counterfactually introducing stunners to the industry earlier than they would have been, it could lead to widespread adoption being accelerated by a number of years.
  • Any potential “impact ceiling” we might hit with buying stunners - if the pool of producers large enough to stun a minimum of 100M shrimps and willing to take up our offer of a stunner is smaller than we currently estimate, then this could limit the potential scale of impact. Likewise, the potential pool could be larger than we realise, for example, we may find a number of smaller producers who want to take a stunner but can’t commit to 100M shrimps, in which case we could offer to pro-rata our contribution, and work with a larger pool of producers at a similar cost-effectiveness.
  • Finally, we see hard-to-quantify value in whether this intervention helps to diversify interventions in the animal welfare space. Both the decision to focus on shrimps, and to purchase equipment for the industry, are both somewhat novel “bets” that seem to have paid off. We hope that this is encouraging for the movement more broadly to continue to invest in exploratory work in the space.

Really enjoyed this - thanks for sharing!

Can't wait to hear/see the full musical when you're finished :)

Can I ask what your idea for an EA board game was? I've recently started designing board games as a hobby and I was thinking about trying to do an EA one :)

Hey Eric, this comment thread popped into my head today :) Are you able to share the list of relevant-to-EA video and board games at this time? I'm just super curious to know what they are and try some out!

Hi all - one of the co-founders of Shrimp Welfare Project (and a co-author of this report) here :) 

Unfortunately, Lucas, our Research Lead (and primary author of this report), will be leaving the team at the end of April. We are sad to see him go and are thankful for all the great work he has done within Shrimp Welfare Project. 

We are therefore looking for a new Research Lead to take over from April, before Lucas leaves, so that he can pass on all relevant information! If you are interested, you can find out more here. Applications can be submitted until February 17!

One of the co-founders from Shrimp Welfare Project here :) 

I agree - it was a real priority for us to not have a curled shrimp in our logo (which was tricky!) for this reason. And you're right, most shrimps that are farmed are whiteish or brownish (though there are over 2,000 species of shrimps, and some are very colourful!). Finally, as an alternative to the "go vegan" message that could accompany it, you could also explore an "expanding the moral circle" message (though as it's been noted previously with the "do good better" message, that this could come off as preachy without context).

I'd be happy to share the shrimp we used in our logo if you wanted to use that instead, though I don't want this to seem like we're pitching Shrimp Welfare Project specifically rather than shrimp welfare in general :) 

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