University of Oulu

Mozumder, M.M.H.; Pyhälä, A.; Wahab, M.A.; Sarkki, S.; Schneider, P.; Islam, M.M. Understanding Social-Ecological Challenges of a Small-Scale Hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha) Fishery in Bangladesh. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 4814.

Understanding social-ecological challenges of a small-scale hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha) fishery in Bangladesh

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Author: Mozumder, Mohammad Mojibul Hoque1; Pyhälä, Aili2; Wahab, Md. Abdul3;
Organizations: 1Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), Doctoral Programme in Interdisciplinary Environmental Science (DENVI), Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
2Development Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geosciences and Geography, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
3WorldFish, Bangladesh and South Asia Office, House 2B, Road 04, Block-B, Banani, Dhaka 1213, Bangladesh
4Cultural Anthropology, University of Oulu, P.O Box 1000, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland
5Department for Water, Environment, Civil Engineering and Safety, University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal, Breitscheidstraße 2, D-39114 Magdeburg, Germany
6Department of Coastal and Marine Fisheries, Sylhet Agricultural University, Sylhet 3100, Bangladesh
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2019
Publish Date: 2020-02-11


Small-scale fisheries (SSFs) have been playing a crucial role in meeting the basic needs of millions of people around the world. Despite this, the sustainability of global fisheries is a growing concern, and the factors enabling or constraining the sustainable management of small-scale fisheries remain poorly understood. Hilsa shad (Tenualosa ilisha) is the single most valuable species harvested in Bangladesh waters, serves nutrition, income, and employment to the large population. This study analyzed the state and challenges of hilsa fishery in the Gangetic River systems (Padma and Meghna Rivers) by using two frameworks, namely the social-ecological systems (SES) and drivers-pressure-state-impact-responses (DPSIR) frameworks. Primary data for this analysis were collected by in-depth interviews (n = 130) and focus group discussions (n = 8) with various stakeholders in the hilsa fisheries. The perspectives explored here have been both critical and constructive, including the identification of problems and suggestions for improving the management of this particular social-ecological system. Hilsa fisheries, however, have come under severe threat since 2003 because of population growth, overfishing, pollution, climate change, the disruption of migration routes due to siltation, etc. All these have caused reduced catches and less stable incomes for fishers. This, in turn, has led to poverty, malnutrition, social tensions, stakeholder conflicts, and debt cycles amongst more impoverished fishing communities. These problems have been compounded by improved fishing technology amongst larger-scale ventures, the use of illegal fishing gears, and the non-compliance of government fishery management programs. Recommendations include the promotion of community-supported fisheries, the enhancement of stakeholder’s social resilience, the introduction of co-management approach, an increase in incentives and formal financial supports, and possible community-managed sustainable ecotourism including hilsa fishing-based tourism.

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Series: International journal of environmental research and public health
ISSN: 1661-7827
ISSN-E: 1660-4601
ISSN-L: 1661-7827
Volume: 16
Issue: 23
Pages: 1 - 24
Article number: 4814
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph16234814
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 520 Other social sciences
616 Other humanities
5141 Sociology
Funding: To carry out the fieldwork, the first author received travel funding from the Doctoral School in Environmental, Food and Biological Sciences (YEB) and Doctoral Program in Interdisciplinary Environmental Science (DENVI), University of Helsinki, Finland.
Copyright information: © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (