University of Oulu

Mozumder, M.M.H.; Pyhälä, A.; Wahab, M.A.; Sarkki, S.; Schneider, P.; Islam, M.M. Governance and Power Dynamics in a Small-Scale Hilsa Shad (Tenualosa ilisha) Fishery: A Case Study from Bangladesh. Sustainability 2020, 12, 5738.

Governance and power dynamics in a small-scale hilsa shad (Tenualosa ilisha) fishery : a case study from 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
2Department of Geosciences and Geography, Faculty of Social Sciences, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
3WorldFish, Bangladesh, and South Asia Office, Dhaka 1213, Bangladesh
4Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu, 90014 Oulu, Finland
5Department for Water, Environment, Civil Engineering and Safety, University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal, D-39114 Magdeburg, Germany
6Department of Coastal and Marine Fisheries, Sylhet Agricultural University, Sylhet 3100, Bangladesh
7Department of Geography, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St.John’s, NL A1B 3X9, Canada
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-12-01


This paper considers the hilsa shad (Tenualosa ilisha) fishery of southern Bangladesh as a case study regarding governance and power dynamics at play in a small-scale fishery, and the relevance of these for the sustainable management of coastal fisheries. Qualitative methods, involving in-depth individual interviews (n = 128) and focus group discussions (n = 8) with key stakeholders in the hilsa fishery, were used to capture multiple perspectives on governance from those in different positions in the relative power structures studied, while facilitating insightful discussions and reflections. The analysis here is based on a power cube framework along three power dimensions (levels, spaces, and forms) in Bangladesh’s hilsa fishery. The study displays an imbalance in the present hilsa governance structure, with some stakeholders exercising more power than others, sidelining small-scale fishers, and encouraging increasing illegal fishing levels that ultimately harm both the fisheries and those dependent on them. To overcome this, we propose a co-management system that can play a vital role in equalizing power asymmetry among hilsa fishery stakeholders and ensure effective hilsa fishery governance. Our results suggest that recognizing analyzed power dynamics has substantial implications for the planning and implementation of such co-management and the long-term sustainability of the hilsa fishery.

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Series: Sustainability
ISSN: 2071-1050
ISSN-E: 2071-1050
ISSN-L: 2071-1050
Volume: 12
Issue: 14
Article number: 5738
DOI: 10.3390/su12145738
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 616 Other humanities
520 Other social sciences
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: © 2020 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 (