PUBLICATION • Journal article
Economic incentives drive the conversion of agriculture to aquaculture in the Indian Sundarbans: Livelihood and environmental implications of different aquaculture types
Expansion of aquaculture in the Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve (SBR) is irreversibly replacing agricultural land and the drivers of this change are disputed. Based on in-depth interviews with 67 aquaculture farmers, this paper characterizes major aquaculture types in the SBR, their impacts, and identifies drivers of conversion from agricultural land. Aquaculture types included traditional, improved-traditional, modified-extensive, and semi-intensive systems. Extensive capture of wild shrimp larvae is environmentally harmful but constitutes an important livelihood. Semi-intensive aquaculture of exotic shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) has much higher unit-area profitability than other types but involves greater financial risk. Profitability is the main driver for the transition from agriculture, but environmental factors such as lowered crop yields and cyclone impacts also contributed. Many conversions from agriculture to aquaculture are illegal according to the stakeholders. Existing legislation, if enforced, could halt the loss of agriculture, while the promotion of improved-traditional aquaculture could reduce the demand for wild seed.
Giri, S., T.D. Daw, S. Hazra, M. Troell, S. Samanta, O. Basu, C.L. Marcinko, and A. Chanda. 2022. Economic incentives drive the conversion of agriculture to aquaculture in the Indian Sundarbans: Livelihood and environmental implications of different aquaculture types. Ambio 18:1-15.READ ONLINE