The importance of recreational fishing, in many coastal areas and less developed nations, is increasing rapidly. Connecting fisheries to tourism can create innovative tourism products and provide new income sources. The present study is the first to explore the concept of coastal fishery-based ecotourism (FbE) to enhance the social–ecological resilience of coastal fishing communities in a specific tourist spot in Bangladesh. A combination of primary (quantitative and qualitative) and secondary (literature databases) data sources were used in this study. It applied a social–ecological system (SES) and social–ecological resilience (SER) concept to collect quantitative and qualitative data (120 in-depth individual interviews, four focus group discussions, and strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats-SWOT analyses) and frame their interpretation. The study found that Bangladesh needs to adopt a firm policy to utilize tourism’s potential in national economic development and societal progress. The findings show the considerable potential of the concept that integrates business, education, and an environmental conservation perspective in Bangladesh, specifically for Saint Martin’s Island: 32% of interviewees expressed that increasing employment opportunities and the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) is the primary potential, whereas 31% said it would attract fishing tourists and 23% believed it would develop the local infrastructure and facilities for fishing and tourism. Similarly, most of the respondents (31%) thought that the lack of awareness and promotional activities is the main limitation preventing this initiative from being well accepted. Moreover, based on the findings, specific measures for strengthening the social–ecological resilience of the coastal fishers via FbE at the local level were suggested, including building communal links, developing community infrastructures, revising prevailing rules and regulations, offering alternative means of generating income for fishers during disaster periods, and more active sharing of responsibility between stakeholders and government for the management of FbE. Finally, with its focus on the prospects and challenges of coastal FbE development on Saint Martin’s Island, this article provides a useful reference point for future discourse on similar social and economic strategies. While this study focuses on Bangladesh’s coastal fishing villages, the results are possibly applicable more broadly in similar contexts and developing countries worldwide.
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