Social-ecological system change and adaptation: A case of Chilika lagoon small-scale fishery, India
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Coastal lagoons are highly productive ecosystems and many fisher communities depend on the ecosystem services for their livelihoods. Unfortunately, due to anthropogenic stressors these lagoons are undergoing severe environmental changes that are impacting local fisher communities. To cope and adapt to with the changes in lagoon social-ecological systems, fisher communities are using their local knowledge. Using Chilika lagoon on the east coast of India near the Bay of Bengal as a case, I examined a range of drivers that have caused changes in the social-ecological system of the lagoon and the various adaptation options fishers consider when faced with extreme environmental and social changes. In particular, I analyse the role of local fishers’ knowledge in crafting various adaptation strategies. Semi-structured and focus-group interviews were used to collect data in the field over a three month period. Analysis of qualitative data showed that the major drivers of changes in the lagoon are: a) opening of new sea mouth; b) change in fishing techniques; and c) increase in shrimp aquaculture. Results showed that there are no long term adaptation strategies in the fisher community, and the adaptation strategies themselves act as drivers of change in the social-ecological system. Communication gaps and conflict between the fisher communities is further limiting adaptation in the fisher community.