The area around the Gulf of Fonseca is ideal for shrimp farming. Shrimp thrive in the warm temperatures, and extensive salt flats provide the space needed for the shrimp farms. The farms are actually holding ponds, which appear as rows of rectangles in these Landsat images. The ponds are stocked with either wild shrimp (shrimp fry) brought in from the gulf or shrimp raised in a hatchery.
The vivid colors in the images reveal the varying land covers and what’s in the holding ponds. Green represents vegetation—the bright green along the coast and along waterways indicates the salt-tolerant mangrove forests.
Water absorbs light, so it appears dark in these images. When active and filled, the ponds appear dark. When drained, the ponds are pink. Pink and bright white also indicate the locations of salt flats in the 1976 image.
Throughout the 1980s, the Honduran government provided tax incentives to stimulate the industry and make shrimp farming profitable. This policy, along with water quality degradation, led to conflicts between the shrimp farmers and fishers. Initially, shrimp farms may have displaced some fishers. Regulation of the industry helped alleviate conflicts: agreements controlled growth of the shrimp farm industry and established protected areas.
In the 1990s, expansion of the shrimp industry slowed and measures were implemented to make the industry more sustainable. Wildlife refuges were declared in many of the remaining mangrove areas. These sites help to protect the wildlife, biodiversity, and water quality of the region.