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A study on the socio-economics of coastal fisheries with special reference to the sundarbans of West Bengal, India

Author: 
Mahua Bhattacharya
Subject Area: 
Social Sciences and Humanities
Abstract: 

An intensive study has been conducted for last three years since 2009-11, to estimate the Gender in coastal fisheries of West Bengal, India to assess their socio-economic status, literacy, income, health hazards, recreation, sanitation & medical facilities, family size, types of fishermen, child labour, crafts & gears used and total annual landings. Total 0.215 million fishermen of different categories engaged in coastal fisheries of which 51.35% male and 48.65 % are female. And out of 0.215 million fishermen the present study has been conducted on 16254 (Male – 8346, Female- 7908) of which 112 are child labour. Prime fishing season is during October to March every year and produce about 17.6% of total West Bengal production and 6.2% of total annual marine production of India. Four different types of fishermen participated in fishing activities are ‘Laya’((active fishermen – 1080), ‘Saudagar’(people who buy the fish from ‘Layas’ – 396), ‘Aratdar’ (the stockiest – 196) and ‘Shramik’ ( help in sorting, cleaning, drying and subsequently sale the product – 14186). Rate of literacy has been observed to be very frustrating among the fishing families, sex wise literacy percentage recorded as male – 19%, female – 15% and up to 4th standard – 25%, 10th standard – 4% and above – 2% only although average literacy rate in the two coastal districts East Midnapore and South 24-Parganas is about 80.17%. Fisher folk also undertake various subsidiary activities like waged labour in agriculture, construction work, poultry raising etc. for additional income. The income group level assessed through questioner and interrogation are categories in three different levels of Rs. < 10000 (88%), Rs. >10000 (9%) and Rs. > 25000 (3%). As xAB (10.64) is not equal to zero (0), so, income and education in not independent. Child labours are paid only Rs. 40-50 per day, equivalent to one (1) USD. Most of the fishermen, particularly ‘Sramik’(labour group) accompanying the fishing units with or without nets suffering from Asthma, Dysentery, Diarrhea, Gastrointestinal disorder, Malaria, Helminthesis, Typhoid, Scabies etc. as they do not provided proper sanitation, tube well for drinking water, drainage system, medical facilities. Only three community centres are available for recreation. They take loan from ‘moneylenders’ to meet the running expenses when they are away for fishing which is never adequate to meet their domestic requirements and again they compelled to conface further loan from the ‘money lenders’. Majority of the fishermen houses (labour group) are closely constructed and they lived in temporary hut with ‘Hoogla’ thatches. The average family size of the study area are found to consist of 6 -7 members and from this study it is indicated that large numbers of families were unable to provide two major meals to their children thorough out the year while some other lived under debt throughout their life as very large number of fisher folk did not have more than 3 months employment in a year. The result of the correlation analysis clearly reveals that income and family size is positively correlated (r = 0.489) to each other. So, gender, family size and income of a family is the most important index of the socio economic condition of the fishermen.

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