Mangrove-Dependent Small-Scale Fisher (SSF) Communities in the Sundarbans – Vulnerable yet Viable
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Sundarbans social-ecological system is the largest remaining mangrove wetland in the Asian continent. Its ecological subsystem is comprised of mangroves of Sundarbans shared between India and Bangladesh, which are complex ecosystems on the verge of obliteration. Along with diverse flora and fauna, they support the livelihoods and culture of millions of small-scale fisheries communities which make up the social subsystem of Sundarbans. 7.5 million people reside in the Sundarbans and around 40,000 households are dependent solely on small-scale fisheries. Mangrove cover have been reduced by 35% in the recent years by the combined action of natural and anthropogenic drivers of change such as cyclones and extensive shrimp aquaculture. There were other active drivers as well, but the major ones were selected for the case studies. Recurrent cyclones uproot mangroves and damage fishponds, boats, and fishing gear. Conversion of mangrove wetlands and agricultural lands by non-fishers and large-scale fishing fleets, into fragmented shrimp culture ponds create fishing pressure on the Sundarbans as well as competition between them and the small-scale fisher communities. These factors result in multidimensional vulnerabilities affecting the ecosystem and small-scale fisheries, through effects like habitat loss, fragmentation, overexploitation of resources, loss of livelihoods, lack of opportunities and migration. There is a lack of understanding of the interaction and interconnection between mangroves and small-scale fisheries on a vulnerability and viability perspective as well as on a social-ecological system’s perspective. The purpose of this research is to assess the vulnerability of small-scale fisheries and examine ways in which communities that depend on them can achieve viability. The objectives of this study are– (a) to identify and describe the drivers of change impacting mangroves as well as the small-scale fisheries communities in Sundarbans social-ecological system; (b) to analyse the vulnerabilities experienced by the mangroves and small-scale fisheries communities in Sundarbans social-ecological system, and (c) to examine the key response strategies and pathways to viability of the mangrove dependent small-scale fisheries communities in Sundarbans social-ecological system. The study embraces a qualitative approach. An in-depth systematic review of literature as well as case studies has been used to meet the objectives. Ultimately, the results of this thesis indicate that sustainable ways of fishing and a regulatory system to oversee the management of the forests must be formulated to protect the future of both. The pathways of viability discussed in the thesis derived from the coping and adaptive responses of small-scale fishers would play an important role in ecosystem sustainability and livelihood stability.
Cite this version of the work
Aishwarya Pattanaik (2021). Mangrove-Dependent Small-Scale Fisher (SSF) Communities in the Sundarbans – Vulnerable yet Viable. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/17366