AaronBoddy

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

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Introducing Shrimp Welfare Project

No problem, these are great questions!

And yes that's true, each stakeholder in the shrimp supply chain is usually driven by the demands of the next link (i.e. farmer - processor - importer - distributor - consumer). So when it comes down to it, often the distributor (retailer/restaurant etc.) can only make a change if they have reason to believe that the public is demanding change...

Though we are anticipating that we can make lots of progress before we reach public awareness as our limiting factor (the scale is just so huge!).

And we expect that in the meantime, progress towards public awareness of aquatic animal suffering will increase significantly thanks to the work of other NGOs (such as all the great NGOs in the Aquatic Animal Alliance ! [1])

Introducing Shrimp Welfare Project

There are lots of overlaps between welfare and sustainability, with a great overview provided by the Aquatic Life Institute [1] (we're hoping to publish a shrimp-focused look at the overlap of sustainability and welfare on our website soon!)

Our main concern is with super-intensive systems, in which many of these welfare issues are managed very well, but there are very high stocking densities. In less intensive systems, lower stocking densities can reduce stress and susceptibility to diseases, so we have a pretty good case for asking that they're reduced as part of our Ask. But in high-intensive systems, water quality and risk of disease are managed well, so stocking densities can be very high - and the overlap of welfare and sustainability falls down. In this case, we're hoping that being able to provide the farmers with access to a higher-welfare market becomes our main lever for justifying an ask to reduce stocking densities.

Introducing Shrimp Welfare Project

You've hit the nail on the head! The idea on the face of it seems so unusual, but once I talk through the scale, neglectedness and tractability of the problem, I've yet to find anyone who isn't convinced by it (except maybe my parents...)

I have been slightly bowled over by the number of people who have "got it", but as you say, this is largely because I'm talking to EAs. But even with non-EAs, describing welfare issues such as eyestalk ablation, dying of disease or suffocating due to lack of oxygen seems to be pretty well understood and hasn't come across as controversial...

We're really excited to see what lies ahead for us, and can't wait to see the progress you make on insect welfare! :)

Introducing Shrimp Welfare Project

Great questions!

Advocacy: You're absolutely right, that's been our impressions of corporate advocacy work too and we're currently not expecting to drum up grassroots campaigns, or do any significant work on public awareness. Our expectation as it stands is that we can frame the benefits of shrimp welfare as a lever for sustainability. The Seafood Task Force has managed to make shrimp supply chain improvements driven by retail largely without the buy-in of consumers [1]. In addition, we hope to enable corporations to be leaders in this area, as consumer awareness of aquatic welfare increases (i.e. due to Seaspiracy etc.).

Production: It's pretty concentrated on a country level in terms of distribution [2]. In South-East Asia there are often many smaller farmers, but they work with agents who deliver the shrimps to a centralised processing plant for export [3]. Our understanding of importing at a company level is that there are a few key importers that dominate the market [4].

A framework for discussing EA with people outside the community

I loved watching this talk, thanks for sharing!

It would be great to talk further about this idea (though based on your talk, it would seem you have already given way more thought to it than I have)

A framework for discussing EA with people outside the community

I love this! 

I think for me a real barrier is the fact that I barrel ahead with the ideas too quickly... like I want to jump straight in at the deep-end with "we should think of all lives as equally important and we should be trying to consider the ways our donation can go farthest" - that idea on its own maybe isn't controversial, but probably hasn't engaged my conversational partner in the same way as in your example.  

One of the main motivations for me writing this post was to have a mental checklist when discussing EA so that I don't barrel ahead without bringing the other person along for the ride :) 

So for me, I think it's useful to have a framework  in my head so I can ensure that these ideas build upon each other:

1. do they want to do some good in the world

2. do they agree that all lives are equally important

3. do they agree that there are some situations where your donation/time will make far more of a difference than others

4. do they agree that it is possible/worthwhile to figure out which interventions are the most effective

5. this stuff is really engaging and there is already a whole movement that you can join so you don't have to do all this on your own!

That's a simplified framework (I just tried to pick out the key beats in your conversation example) but it definitely helps for me to have a framework :)

A framework for discussing EA with people outside the community

Ahh that's really interesting to know!

But yeah, I definitely would feel a bit manipulative if I didn't feel like I knew the person properly - I want to present to them ideas that I think they'd really engage with and would interest them, rather than giving them the impression I'm trying to force a viewpoint on them

A framework for discussing EA with people outside the community

We are actually going to discuss this article at my local university group next week, so it would be interesting to consider how we might apply the ideas to the group - thanks for the suggestion! :)

Believing in things you cannot see

I found this really interesting and the difference between realization and belief reminded me of the Toyota Production System's concept of Genchi Genbutsu ("real location, real thing" or "go and see"). It basically states that you cannot be sure you really understand any part of any business problem unless you go and see for yourself firsthand - It is unacceptable to take anything for granted or to rely on the reports of others. 

AaronBoddy's Shortform

How bad is it to exploit bees?

I agree that taking action to improve the welfare of farmed bees is positive.

But with other farmed animals such as chickens/pigs/cows, a significant goal to aim for is to ultimately bring fewer of those animals into existence in order to reduce overall suffering. 

But is that also the case for bee farming? Or do we instead want to increase the number of bees we farm because we need to increase commercial pollination services for a greater good? And if so, even if we weren't to intervene in bee welfare in any way, would we still be aiming to increase the number of farmed bees from a consequentialist point of view? 

Is it possible to calculate the net utility (positive or negative) from bringing one suffering bee into existence?

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