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Fishing for prawn larvae in Bangladesh: An important coastal livelihood causing negative effects on the environment
journal contributionposted on 2023-02-03, 03:45 authored by Nesar Ahmed, M Troell
Freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) farming in Bangladesh has, to a large extent, been dependent on the supply of wild larvae. Although there are 81 freshwater prawn hatcheries in the country, a lack of technical knowledge, inadequate skilled manpower, and an insufficient supply of wild broods have limited hatchery production. Many thousands of coastal poor people, including women, are engaged in fishing for wild prawn larvae along the coastline during a few months each year. On average, 40% of the total yearly income for these people comes from prawn larvae fishing activity. However, indiscriminate fishing of wild larvae, with high levels of bycatch of juvenile fish and crustaceans, may impact negatively on production and biodiversity in coastal ecosystems. This concern has provoked the imposition of restrictions on larvae collection. The ban has, however, not been firmly enforced because of the limited availability of hatchery-raised larvae, the lack of an alternative livelihood for people involved in larvae fishing, and weak enforcement power. This article discusses the environmental and social consequences of prawn larvae fishing and concludes that, by increasing awareness among fry fishers, improving fishing techniques (reducing bycatch mortality), and improving the survival of fry in the market chain, a temporal ban may be a prudent measure when considering the potential negative impacts of bycatch. However, it also suggests that more research is needed to find out about the impact of larvae fishing on nontarget organisms and on the populations of targeted species. © Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010.