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Assessing prospects for environmental management using information about social capital characteristics: a case study from shrimp farming communities in the Sundarbans Region of India

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The Indian Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage site, forms the world’s largest tidal mangrove ecosystem. Traditional low intensity shrimp farming is present, but the Indian Government sees potential for its intensification and views shrimp aquaculture as a vehicle for rural coastal poverty eradication. However, intensive shrimp aquaculture has come under fire from environmental groups for its harmful environmental and social impacts. A previous study, which explored stakeholder preferences for aquaculture development recommended less intensive shrimp aquaculture practices than the intensive approach under consideration. One attractive option not explored in the initial study is group aquaculture. Group shrimp aquaculture relies on the ability and willingness of participants to act collectively, which is influenced by the social capital they possess. Principal Component and Hierarchical Cluster Analyses are used to analyze social capital in the communities by creating distinct clusters based on social capital characteristics. A regression analysis is conducted to determine if social capital affects attitudes towards group shrimp farming. The research concludes that households, which possess bonding and bridging social capital, are more suitable for group shrimp aquaculture development than those who possess limited social capital.
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