Living on the Margin: The Poverty-Vulnerability Nexus in the Small-Scale Fisheries of Bangladesh

  • Mohammad Mahmudul IslamEmail author


This chapter examines the relationship between poverty and vulnerability in small-scale fisheries of Bangladesh. For this purpose, data were collected in three coastal fishing communities. The results show that in small-scale fisheries, poverty is a complex issue, with a wide array of causal factors in effect. Small-scale fishers’ livelihoods are threatened by: low productivity of fisheries and high dependency on certain species; seasonality in fishing; frequent natural disasters; heavy debt bondage; coastal piracy and other illegal rent seeking activities; mass illiteracy; and lack of participation in political processes and local institutions, to mention some of the problems. Thus in Bangladesh, small-scale fishers are forced to live on the margin of existence where they are extremely vulnerable to shocks such as environmental disasters. The study finds that a combination of different livelihood strategies is an important tool for escaping poverty in the fishing communities. I argue that to arrest poverty in small-scale fishing communities such as those of Bangladesh, addressing vulnerability is vital; and creating a buffer against crisis is urgent.


Fishing Community Fishing Gear Migrant Fisher Productive Asset Union Council 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author wishes to thank Svein Jentoft, Michael Flitner, Maarten Bavinck and Maria-Victoria Gunnarsdottir for helpful comments and critical review on earlier drafts of this article. Thanks also to the Norwegian Research Council for funding the PovFish project, and GLOMAR for funding this research work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bremen International Graduate School for Marine Sciences (GLOMAR), Research Center for Sustainability Studies (ARTEC)University of BremenBremenGermany

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