Evaluation of the ecological effectiveness and social appropriateness of fishing regulations in the Bangladesh Sundarbans using a new multi-disciplinary assessment framework

Publication Type: Journal Article

Year of Publication: 2016

Authors: Thompson, B. S., Bladon, A. J., Fahad, Z. H., Mohsanin, S., & Koldewey, H. J.

Journal: Fisheries Research 183, 410-423

Abstract
Fisheries research is hindered by a paucity of multi-disciplinary tools for broadly assessing the societal appropriateness and ecological effectiveness of fishing regulations. This study presents a multi-disciplinary assessment framework that combines ecological, spatial, and social research methods to reveal the knowledge, opinions, activities, and impacts of fishers. The framework is applied to a multi-gear, multi-species, data-poor coastal fishery in the Bangladesh Sundarbans to demonstrate the complementarity of the methods, commensurability of the data, and how results can be interpreted to provide a broad initial overview of the fishery in a standardized manner that can guide future research and management. Data were obtained for 26 catches across five different gear types, 62 finfish species, 20 fishing grounds that were mapped, and 67 respondents across four villages regarding their awareness, acceptability, and compliance (AAC) of eight existing and seven proposed fishing regulations. AAC scores varied starkly for different regulations, and all proposed regulations scored lower on acceptability than any existing regulation. A number of recommendations are made to improve specific gear and species regulations; for example, protecting the locally endangered species Scatophagus argus (currently under no fishing regulation) through a ban on the long-shore net that heavily impacts the species, rather than a ban on the species itself. Broader management recommendations are also made including spatially targeted enforcement, awareness raising, and capacity building approaches. The positives and limitations of the framework are discussed. The framework is particularly applicable to small-scale fisheries in the developing world, and is useful as a pilot study.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fishres.2016.07.010