Reimagining large-scale open-water fisheries governance through adaptive comanagement in hilsa shad sanctuaries

Almost a half million fishers in Bangladesh are predominantly reliant on the hilsa shad (Tenualosa ilisha) fishery in the Meghna River and estuarine ecosystem. This paper adopts a broadened concept of social-ecological traps to frame the complex dynamics that emerge from social and ecological interactions in this highly natural resource-dependent social-ecological system (SES). We analyze how endogenous self-reinforcing processes in the system and poor initial conditions, particularly debt and lack of livelihood options outside fisheries, keep fishing households in poverty. We identify a policy decision in favor of incentive-based fisheries management as a critical juncture that influenced a trajectory of recovery in hilsa shad stocks in this complex adaptive system.


van Brakel, M.L., Nahiduzzaman, M., Mahfuzul Haque, A., Golam Mustafa, M., Jalilur Rahman, M., Abdul Wahab, M. (2018)
Ecology and Society, 23(1):26 [open access]