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Mangrove-fishery ecosystem in Bhitarkanika: a bio-socio-economic analysis

Student Name: Ms Susmita Sahu
Guide: Dr. Ligia Noronha
Year of completion: 2012

Abstract:

This thesis seeks to assess whether a protected area such as a National Park is the best management option or policy instrument to protect biodiversity, given the ecosystem and human context. This was done through a detailed case study of the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, Orissa, India. The Bhitarkanika National Park, a protected area, which is part of the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, was established in 1998 and consequently local community were restricted from any type of resource use from the park. The dependence of the local community on the mangroves forest in the period of post-establishment of the national park was assessed and possible management options considering resource need of the people were compared.

A household survey was conducted in the area to understand resource need and consumption pattern and perceptions of the local people which consequently determine their dependence on the mangroves. Mangroves contribution to fish productivity is one of the most acknowledged environmental services. The marine fisheries in the area was studied for the ten year period 1999-2000 to 2008-09 to capture any sign of impact of change in the protected status of the park. A bio-economic model was developed to compare various management options formulated with the help of household perception survey.

The four management options considered were (i) Preservation (No go),
(ii) Limited access,
(iii) Subsistence forestry, and
(iv) Commercial forestry.

Dynamic optimization and simulation exercise were used to estimate the optimal mangroves and fishery stock and the aggregate benefits accruing to the people defined in terms of annual income from fisheries, mangroves and ecosystem services under the four management options. The extremely poor local community depends on the mangroves for collection of fuel wood mostly, and increase in income or days employment is not expected to reduce their dependence significantly. The option of Commercial forestry was found to yield higher level of aggregate benefits, and higher level of mangroves and fish stock than other options, which was also the preferred option by the local community. The aggregate benefits did not differ much between the option of Preservation and Limited access. Because the local people use a small proportion of the mangroves for their everyday need. The economic and ecological parameters which were found to be affecting the equilibrium of the mangrove-fishery ecosystem were mangrove-fishery impact parameter, net growth rate of the resources, price of fish, catchability coefficient, and cost of unit fishing effort. This study also showed the versatility of use of bioeconomic models and dynamic optimization and simulation for better resource management.

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