Write-ups for the Fourth Edition of V2V Commons Newsletter
Social mobilization: A key factor in moving from Vulnerability to Viability
The scientific process underway in V2V, given the diversity of the institutional actors involved and the themes on its agenda, is indicative of its progressive, even humanistic, character. From my past experience with the scientific community, both in my country and internationally, I can say without gross error that V2V is a framework that recognizes the importance of the human and social sciences, which have been marginalized for a long time. It is obvious that interesting proposals for a transition to viability will emerge from the various initiatives underway, but to be effective, they need to be integrated into public policies, which is a factor of vulnerability itself.
The political dimension in which SSF is embedded must not be overlooked in our V2V approach. Indeed, the political dimension in which SSF is embedded must not be overlooked in our V2V approach. Indeed, I know that, as researchers, we have a limited role to play in the immense task of ensuring the transition to viability. But given that poor governance and unsustainable public policies are among the main factors behind vulnerability, it is becoming imperative, in my opinion, to study the various ways in which V2V (on a strictly scientific level) could contribute to the agenda of SSF organizations and Social movements.
Overmore, climate change is most often indexed - in a context of internationalization of the related debate - as the source of all the socio-economic and environmental challenges faced by SSF communities. It has become a strategy used by policy makers to absolve themselves by licensing poor governance, expressed through unsustainable fisheries policies. Indeed, climate change is increasingly used to try to externalize responsibility. Moreover, if one is animated by a grain of objectivity, it must be recognized that the political will required from decision-makers to mitigate vulnerability is not yet there. If this were the case, the implementation of certain international instruments - albeit optional - on the part of States should considerably cushion the impacts of shocks and risks to which SSF communities are exposed. The same is true of the SSF Guidelines to which states have committed themselves through Article 14 of the SDGs but whose effective implementation by states does not seem to be in the offing. Based on what has been said above and taking into account our institutional limits as a scientific community, we must promote a form of collaboration with key players who have the prerogatives to negotiate with political decision-makers. Our collaboration with the latter could, for example, be limited to capacity building for leaders of SSF associations and movements, through the sharing of the various materials resulting from our work: scientific articles, videos, etc.
I believe that without losing our souls as researchers, we can strengthen these organizations by providing them with a variety of resources. For example, we can host workshops to discuss the results of our work (e.g., I-ADApT) and discuss documents demonstrating the commitment of the States to contribute to a V2V transition - for which V2V is designed and implemented - but without follow-up, for lack of a real political will on the part of these States. We have the example of the SSF Guidelines which recommendations, if really implemented should significantly contribute to the expected transition. It is in view of this factual situation - in general, does not mean commitment - and with a wish to see our scientific opinion effectively contribute to the transition, that I wished our proposals on viability to be considered not only as recommendations. But to achieve this, only the communities through their social movements/organizations will be able to exert their weight on the decision-making processes in favour of sustainable governance for artisanal fisheries. It is with respect to this that CREDETI¨P has planned (as part of the Senegal plan of actions) a certain number of workshops and related activities.
Country in Action: Bangladesh
By: Sabiha Ahmed Diba | University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh
The Center for Sustainable Development (CSD) - ULAB has prepared the V2V Situational Analysis report on Small Scale Fisheries (SSF) of Bangladesh based on existing and ongoing research and literature from secondary sources (from 2011 to 2021). The report focused on SSF according to a geographic location within the country, such as rivers and coastal areas.
Here, we highlight three interesting and noted insights from the Situational Analysis report from Bangladesh. First, is the fact that one species of fish (Hilsa) dominated the SSF economy. It is noted that Hilsa fish is the primary catch by SSF and is valued greatly due to its cultural and traditional importance (Islam and Chuenpagdee, 2018), thus many of the sources focus more on this specific catch and not on the bycatch. SSF data are mostly based on Hilsa fish, therefore these have been used interchangeably with generic SSF. Second, we identify the Fishing ban and lack of alternate livelihood during the ban as a core vulnerability in SSF. To adapt to the fishing ban, fisher families diversify their livelihoods through alternative income-generating activities which are usually low-paid and not adequate to address their needs. Because of the lack of other skill sets, the fisher households are not able to diversify efficiently (Nahiduzzaman et al., 2018) and a key vulnerability. Finally, the lack of modern technology in the fishing methods used by SSF (e.g., ice to preserve catch, no radio or sonar) was identified as a core vulnerability in SSF in Bangladesh.
We identified many interesting insights; however, we also faced some challenges in preparing the Situational Analysis. It was hard to find secondary data for some areas, which are not available online, but the facts exist for the SSF Bangladesh context. Moreover, there are some concept areas relevant to SSF Bangladesh which are new (e.g., SSF in sustainable blue economy growth) and thereby, little information is available.
Country in Action: Bangladesh
By: Jannat Shancharika Suchi | University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh
Vulnerabilities in Small Scale Fishing Communities – Bangladeshi Perspective
Bangladesh is a riverine country which is constituted by three main river systems called Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna. Bangladesh's aquaculture production is continuously growing, which includes island fish production, but the marine and coastal fisheries have a huge production as well. According to FAO (2021), the total fish production contributes 4% of the GDP, and this contribution normally is made by the small-scale fisheries (SSF) of Bangladesh. In the Bangladesh context, small-scale fisheries include fishing that is conducted without boats or with small, wooden and non-motorized boats. However, the definition varies based on different social, economic and cultural considerations.
The fishers are mainly involved with fishing as a profession as it has been passed on to the over generations. Their forefathers were fishers and they inherited the skills and occupation of fishing from their forefathers. Being born into a fisher family most learn fishing and boating from their early childhood. Many of them did not even learn any other skills for their future life which is why they normally have no other income sources other than fishing. They have to face various complexities and vulnerabilities as fishers. One of the major challenges the fishers in the coastal areas face is the impacts from natural disasters resulting in loss of life and assets. Natural disasters are the reason many have become landless. These situations are definitely vulnerable and helpless. Moreover, a large proportion of fishers do not own boats, nets or other fishing instruments and they have to depend on others for support. When they do so, they have to share a portion of their profits with the owners that reduces their own income and makes them financially vulnerable. As a result, fishers are forced to take loans from the 'dadoners' (agents) to arrange finance for fishing and enter into contracts by which they are bound to sell their fish to the 'dadoners' at a predetermined price which is often significantly lower than the market price. At the fish market, the interference from the middlemen is a crucial factor influencing levels of fisher vulnerability due to their exploitative interference and control of the market chain. In Bangladesh, there are about eight layers of middlemen that control virtually every step of the fisheries, starting from fishing to final sale. Moreover, fish often get rotten often because they quickly lose their stock of ice on a typically multiday fishing trip to the sea.
On the ecological front, the fish stock in the rivers or sea is decreasing day by day although the government is trying their best to protect the fish by imposing the 22 days fishing ban. During this ban season, the fishers are not allowed to fish which makes their livelihoods increasingly vulnerable. They end up livelihood crisis due to lack of capacity to save for the future and the absence of alternate livelihood or income avenues. So, fishers have to go through additional hardship during these periods of the ban. Although the government provides some aid to the fishing communities during the fish ban, it does not reach all fishers in most cases due to corruption and multiple malpractices. Only those with a fishing identity card get the official support but many either do not have a card or those with cards don’t get the aid as it is syphoned away by people involved in disbursing the aid. Fishers are not easily eligible to get financial support (loans) from banks as the banks always want collateral. This is tricky as most fishers do not own significant assets that can be used as collateral. As a result, they are pushed into a vicious cycle of indebtedness and get trapped with private lenders and high-interest rates. Sometimes they have to work under the owners or lenders at low or no wages after taking a private loan. Most of the fisher families have only one income-earning member. Lastly, the fishers do not receive adequate training that could help them try alternate jobs for income generation. Lack of capacity development opportunity adds to their vulnerability and pushes them to think that they are born as fishers and will probably die as fishers.
1. FAO Fisheries & Aquaculture - Country Profile, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, http://www.fao.org/fishery/facp/BGD/en, (accessed March 4, 2021).