NANO alumni publication: Marine megafauna in the northern Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh: Status, threats and conservation needs

NANO Alumnus Subrata Sarker and colleagues published the following article in the Ocean & Coastal Management Journal

Marine megafauna in the northern Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh: Status, threats and conservation needs

Begum et al. (2020) Ocean & Coastal Management Journal, DOI 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2020.105228

 

Abstract

This study investigated the status of charismatic marine megafauna in the northern Bay of Bengal. Specifically, we gathered information on fishers’ perceptions of megafauna in the Bay of Bengal to determine whether fishers view megafauna species as beneficial or harmful and/or under threat. Fieldwork was conducted at five sites from the three coastal districts of Bangladesh. Data were collected through individual interviews (n = 150), focus group discussions (n = 13) and key informant interviews (n = 20). Small-scale fishers interact with marine megafauna as bycatch or intentional harvest, although a small portion of fishers keep the bycatch for sale and consumption or use as ingredients in traditional medicine. Most fishers release marine megafauna back into the water because they are not interested in the catch, they want to obey rules protecting these species or because of social taboos. Fishers have different views on the positive and negative roles of marine megafauna. The perceived positive roles are as indicators of productive fishing grounds, sources of food and livelihoods, and maintenance of ecosystem balance. The perceived negative roles are damage to fishing gear, personal injury, bad omens and predation on target fish. Irrespective of their perceived roles, megafauna groups are vulnerable to the use of fishing gear, pollution, overfishing, bycatch, direct killing, environmental changes and lack of awareness. The present study also summarises the relevant national and international legal obligations relating to the protection of megafauna. The findings reflect a lack of a coherent legal and institutional framework to facilitate conservation of marine megafauna. The results of this study contribute to a better understanding of megafauna status in the northern Bay of Bengal that, in effect, will help define future efforts to enhance marine megafauna conservation in the context of achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 and blue growth.

 

Keywords

  • Marine megafauna
  • Bay of Bengal
  • Conservation
  • Fishers’ perceptions
  • Bycatch

Link for the publication here

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