Food systems approach key to balancing biodiversity, livelihoods

A food systems approach led the extraordinary recovery of hilsa fish stocks while boosting the livelihoods and food security of those dependent on aquatic food systems in Bangladesh. Balancing restrictions on fishing with the promotion of alternative livelihood options offers a lesson in how to manage trade-offs between livelihoods and conservation. 

WorldFish supported the government to introduce fishing bans during the hilsa breeding season which greatly improved the loss of biodiversity in the coastal river areas in the Bay of Bengal. At the same time, it was also vital that rural families find alternative sources of food and income for their livelihoods while fishing bans were implemented. 

Working directly with farmers and fishers allowed researchers to understand their needs and help them to better manage natural resources and avoid the risk of measures to conserve hilsa turning counterproductive by leaving families economically exposed.  

Read the full opinion piece by Dr. Abdul Wahab, WorldFish’s Senior Scientist and Team Lead of the USAID-funded Enhanced Coastal Fisheries Bangladesh Project (ECOFISH).