Present Status and Approaches for the Sustainable Development of Community Based Fish Culture in Seasonal Floodplains of Bangladesh
Coordination among the different stakeholders at policy planning,
implementation and target beneficiary level, particularly among the agencies
responsible for development and management of water resources, agriculture and
fisheries, is essential for overall sustainable development. Stocking of larger
fingerlings at suitable stocking densities of endemic (rohu, catla, mrigal)
and exotic (silver carp, bighead carp, common carp/mirror carp) species should
be stocked at varying proportion. Floodplain fish production depends only on
the natural fertility of the water bodies. Technological interventions should
include the installation of low cost bamboo fencing at water inlet and outlet
points and setting of ring culverts for maintaining suitable levels of water
for fish culture without hampering the production of rice and other crops in
the intervention areas, selective stocking with native and exotic carps, restricted
fishing for certain period of time and guarding. It is expected to exert positive
influences in enhancing the standing crop and biodiversity of non-stocked species
of fishes in the intervention seasonal floodplain. Entry of fish larvae, hatchlings
and young fry of wild non-stocked fishes into the seasonal floodplains because
of large fence spacing (approximately 1.0 cm), could restrict fishing for certain
period, undisturbed habitat and guarding could contribute to higher productivity
and enhancement of fish biodiversity in the seasonal floodplains. Proper motivation
and effective cooperation of the beneficiaries are extremely important to culture
fish in the seasonal floodplains under community based management system. Institutional
support and constant vigilance from the Department of Fisheries (DoF) and local
administrations are indispensable to ensure the sustainability of fish culture
initiatives in the seasonal floodplains. Active participation and involvement
of the local community people in all stages of fish culture operation beginning
from selection of floodplains, formation of floodplain management committee,
planning of fish culture activities, exercise of technical intervention, selective
stocking with large fingerlings, guarding, monitoring and supervision, adopting
harvesting strategies, marketing and distribution of benefits are extremely
essential to ensure sustainability of the program. Mutual trust, sense of respect
and good working relationship among the committee members are the basic social
elements required for the success of community based fish culture initiatives.
to cite this article:
M.F. Rahman, K.C.A. Jalal, Nasrin Jahan, B.Y. Kamaruzzaman, R. Ara and A. Arshad, 2012. Present Status and Approaches for the Sustainable Development of Community Based Fish Culture in Seasonal Floodplains of Bangladesh. Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, 15: 551-567.
Received: October 01, 2012;
Accepted: October 05, 2012;
Published: January 23, 2013
The resources for fisheries in Bangladesh are critical to the national economy
and livelihoods of millions of poor people. Fish provides a major source of
essential dietary nutrients in most households. Due to natural condition and
geographical location Bangladesh offers huge fisheries resources with the potential
to boost fisheries production. The countrys fisheries resources are divided
into two major groups such as inland (fresh water) fisheries and marine fisheries.
Inland fisheries occupy an area of 4.58 million hectares (ha) and marine capture
covers 1, 66,000 km2. Fresh water resources are broadly classified
into open water fisheries and closed water resources with an area of 4.05 and
0.53 million ha, respectively. The culture fishery includes ponds, ox-bow lakes
and coastal shrimp farms. The potential of the inland fishery of Bangladesh
is considered to be one of the highest among the inland fisheries of the world.
Out of 4,05 million ha of open water fisheries, the flood-plains with an area
of 2.8 million ha offer tremendous scope and potential for augmenting fish production
by adopting the aquaculture-based enhancement techniques (WFC,
2005; DOF, 2005; Rahman, 2010).
Haors (large deeply flooded depressions), baors (oxbow lakes) and beels (lakes)
are the permanent and semi-permanent standing water bodies in the floodplain,
which become inundated during the flooding season and support rich fisheries
(Craig et al., 2004). During the rainy season
the inundated areas are regarded as seasonal floodplains. Floodplains also contain
beels. Beels are part of a riverine complex and are generally formed due to
changes in the course of a river, or strengthening of river embankments for
flood control (Saha et al., 1990; Saha
and Hossain 2002). In simple word, beels are usually deeper depressions
in the floodplain (Thompson, 2004).
All these resources offer a unique habitat to support innumerable flora and
fish fauna including the crustaceans, molluscs and shellfishes. Inland fisheries
production in Bangladesh, as in other exploited floodplain fisheries around
the world is strongly related to flood sequence. During the rainy season in
extensive river floodplains and deltaic lowlands, floods last several months
each year and render the land unavailable for crop production for that period.
These water bodies are considerably underutilized in terms of managed aquatic
productivity. As open water fisheries resources are still in infancy and offer
enough scope for fish production through adoption of fisheries management techniques
in a sustainable way. Seasonal floodplains comprise the major share of our open
water resources and could contribute significantly in national fish production
with a little adoption of fisheries management practices. Sustainable development
covers economic, social and environmental goals to meet future challenges. In
this regard, community based integrated management of wetlands offers multiple
benefits (Vinci et al., 2003). This raises the
opportunity to enclose parts of these floodwater areas to produce a crop of
specifically stocked aquatic organisms aside from the naturally occurring 'wild'
species. The wild species are traditionally fished and remain unaffected by
the culture activity. Thereby the overall process results in more high-quality,
nutrient-dense food production and offers enhanced farm income for all stakeholders,
mainly the poor (Dey and Prein, 2006).
It is estimated that 2.8 million ha of 5.2 million ha of medium and deep flooded
areas in the Indo-Gangetic river basin are located in Bangladesh. If 25% of
the resources is brought under the community based fish culture systems, 6.7
million people will be directly benefited with the increase in production of
fish and other aquatic animals together with associated activities (WFC,
2005). More than one third of the lands in Bangladesh remain under water
every year for 4-6 months during monsoon. These inundated floodplains are rich
in nutrients and natural fish food and thus are excellent feeding, breeding
and nursery grounds for fish and other aquatic organisms (De
Graaf, 2003; De Graaf and Marttin, 2003). Das
(2002) also reported that the floodplains are extremely rich in nutrients
being reflected by rich in organic carbon and high levels of available nitrogen
and phosphorus in the soil system. This is reflected in higher biological productivity
offering tremendous scope for augmenting culture and capture fisheries.
Floodplains in Bangladesh have different types of resources involving different
types of stakeholders (professional and subsistence fisher, rice producer, leaseholder,
farm laborers, irrigation pump owners, etc.) (Islam and
Dickson, 2007). There are over 12000 public water bodies (Ahmed
and Dickson, 2007) including 6034 floodplains. Of these floodplains, 3400
are perennial and 2634 are seasonal (Rahman, 2005; Bernaesek
et al., 1992). Floodplains under private ownership provide a common
pool resource during the flood season and are now under extreme pressure from
exploitation due to indiscriminate fishing by different users. Many floodplains
under public ownership are leased to fisher groups to establish their fishing
rights although there is hardly any initiative to protect or enhance the fish
There are innumerable numbers of private seasonal floodplains including beels
in Bangladesh which are highly potential water bodies for practicing culture-based
fisheries for many reasons. It has been mentioned earlier that these floodplains
are very rich in nutrients and natural fish food organisms to allow the stocked
fishes to grow faster. Again the seasonal floodplains support higher stocking
densities by virtue of their higher natural productivity. Moreover the connection
with canals and spillways permits entry of natural fish stocks. Apart from these,
floodplains in Bangladesh are considered common property resource. Water and
land use in such areas are subject to conflict between multiple resources users
(Payne, 1997). Therefore, a holistic management policy
with a provision of incorporating all uses could maximize the benefits from
the floodplains in sustainable way as effective and efficient management of
aquatic resources hold the key to sustainable and environmental friendly fisheries
enhancement in floodplains.
FISHERIES PRODUCTION IN BANGLADESH
The total fish production including inland and marine resources is estimated
at 2.7 mt in Bangladesh (DOF, 2010). About 81% of the
fish production (2.19 mt) comes from the inland fresh water resources and the
remaining from marine resources (0.5 mt). According to the Fisheries Resource
Survey System (FRSS) of Department of Fisheries (DoF), Bangladesh, the contribution
of open water fisheries and closed water resources to fish production is over
1.12 mt (41%) and 1.06 mt (39%), respectively (DOF, 2010).
Fish production from different water resources along with their contributions
are shown in Table 1 and Fig. 1, respectively.
Floodplains offer immense opportunity to the rural people for fishing for food
as well as income (Das, 2002; Pathak
et al., 1989). In 1998-99 floodplain fish production was 0.41 mt
which reached to 0.82 mt in 2009-2010 accounting for 77% of fish production
from inland open waters (DOF, 2010). Considering the natural
productivity of the floodplain water bodies, it is obvious that fish production
could be increased substantially through extensive aquaculture, adopting a co-management
|| Fish production of Bangladesh in recent years
||Total area, capture fisheries and culture fisheries production
from different water resources of Bangladesh for the year 2008-2009
FACTORS INFLUENCING THE FLOODPLAIN FISHERIES
Around the world the floodplain fisheries are influenced by management of the
fishery and the state of the environment. Human uses directly modify the form
and function of the floodplain and river channels in many cases. These leave
an impact on the quantity and timing of river flows and indirectly influence
the erosion deposition processes required to maintain the floodplain and the
diversity of channel habitats. These processes alter the fishery by influencing
the overall abundance of the fish community and the species composition of the
fish assemblages present. Fish assemblages of floodplain rivers respond to heavy
fishing pressure by undergoing the fishing-down process (Welcomme,
1999). This means the successive loss of the larger species and individuals
from the fish assemblage. One of the few means of effective management appears
to be the introduction of co-management systems involving increased control
of the fisheries by the fishermen themselves (Welcomme,
2008). Nilsson et al. (2005) reported that
over half of large river systems of the world have been modified by dams. Floodplains
are being modified in a number of ways to respond to human needs for living
space, agricultural crops, energy and transportation. One major problem is the
changes in siltation rates. These operate on the erosion-deposition cycles to
maintain the river channels and floodplains. As a consequence, siltation has
increased by about 20% through human activities in recent decades (MEA,
2005). Changes occur within the floodplains as they are converted for agricultural
use either as permanently dry land or as seasonally flooded rice fields. MEA
(2005) estimated that between 56 and 65% of wetlands (mostly floodplains)
had been converted for agriculture in Europe and N. America by 1985. Similar
figures appeared for Asia which was 27%; S. America 6% and Africa 2%. Certainly
the situation has deteriorated still further since 1985 and, with the increasing
demand for grain crops worldwide it may be anticipated that the rate of conversion
will be accelerated. Many human activities are placing demands on water. Given
the pressures on food supplies worldwide, the increasing industrialization of
large sectors of the globe and rising living standards in many countries these
estimates may prove conservative (Welcomme, 2008). The
impacts of dams on aquatic habitats have been summarized by WCD
(2000). Water may be abstracted directly from the river, especially for
domestic water supply and small scale irrigation schemes. Individual abstractions
may not be serious but cumulatively can cause severe depletion of the water
especially at drawdown when the amount of water in the river channels is limited.
The major causes responsible for low level of production from the countrys
open water systems of Bangladesh. These are- lack of policies and plan for development
and conservation of water bodies, weak enforcement of existing regulations for
conservation of fisheries resources, lack of appropriate development efforts
and mitigating measures for improvement of the degraded habitats, lack of information
about the stock by species and by location, lack of capacity and initiative
for assessment of environment and its impact on aquatic resources, lack of understanding
of the socio-economic aspects of the fishing community and the conditions that
lead them to irresponsible fishing practices, environmental pollution causing
degradation and depletion of resources and lack of awareness and mechanism for
community participation in the management of common property open water fisheries
resources (Mazid, 2002). In Bangladesh, floodplain fisheries,
particularly the inland open water fisheries, have been affected seriously due
to the Flood Control, Drainage and Irrigation (FCDI) Project which led the serious
consequences causing reductions in fish production i.e. reducing catch per unit
area, biodiversity and livelihood of poor fishers (Craig
et al., 2004; Ali and Alam, 2005). Historically,
inland open water was the major source of fish production in the country, which
contributed about 90% of countrys fish production in the 1960s.
But due to manmade causes, such as destruction of natural habitat by water pollution
through agricultural and industrial intensification, over-fishing in the absence
of fisheries management and conservation measures, implementation of flood control
and drainage projects, fish production in the inland open water, particularly
in the rivers and seasonal floodplains, has declined significantly during the
last four decades (Ali, 1995; Mazid
and Hossain, 1995; Shelly, 2004). The degradation
of floodplains resulting from human interferences due to construction of roads,
embankments, deforestation, encroachment for agricultural production, indiscriminate
use of pesticides and natural causes such as siltation, drought, cyclone and
intrusion of saline water have negative impacts on fish diversity in Bangladesh.
On the other hand, the indiscriminant use of different fishing gears, harmful
techniques of fishing threatens the biodiversity of the seasonal floodplains.
It has been reported that the Chalan Beel fishery is one of the largest, most
important watersheds in North Central floodplain in Bangladesh and during 2005-2006
fish production was reduced to 50% of what was in 1982. It was also stated that
gradual habitat degradation and over exploitation were the key drivers of biodiversity
degradation which were connected to increased siltation rates, construction
of flood control embankments and roads, uncontrolled use of pesticides and chemical
fertilizers in the croplands, excessive removal of surface water and extraction
of ground water for irrigation, diversion of water courses, unregulated discharge
of untreated industrial and aqua farms effluents, fish harvesting by dewatering
(Hossain et al., 2009).
MEASURES FOR MITIGATION
One unique aspect of community based management approach is its decentralized
approach to co-management that focuses on collaboration with local government.
Reduction of fishing pressure was likely to be a critical part of reviving floodplain
fisheries in Bangladesh. Formation of Community Based Organisations (CBOs) is
a crucial task, the failure and success of wetland resource management depends
on CBO performance and accountability. Welcomme (2008)
reported that a range of actions available to mitigate the impacts of human
activities on floodplains. These consisted of two essential components, firstly
ensuring that flow conditions in the river were sufficient to maintain the floodplain
and to fulfill the requirements of the fish and secondly ensuring that the physical
structure of the floodplain and its associated rivers was maintained in a condition
suitable for fish. Channels connecting floodplain water bodies to the river
should be kept open and free of silt and channels those have been sealed or
lost should be restored. He also pointed out that the main river channel should
be conserved in a healthy state and not over channelized. Connectivity should
be maintained with upstream tributaries necessary for movements and breeding
of migratory fish species.
Technical management: For sustainable management of water bodies and
their ecosystems through improved community planning and appropriate management
interventions including the establishment of sanctuaries, control of fishing
effort, habitat restoration, stocking fingerlings, gear restriction, ban on
complete dewatering and other measures are need to be considered.
Community based co-management: To ensure sustainable and equitable fisheries,
community based co-management will be formalized in water bodies where it has
already been established through various projects, expanded to other water bodies.
Community based organizations: To provide a formal legal recognition
of user rights, community based organizations where fishers have a leading role
will be facilitated and organized. The type of community based organization
appropriate will vary according to the location, it may be membership based
(fishers), an organization representing different stakeholder groups, or a set
of volunteers from the community concerned to ensure sustainable fisheries.
FISHERIES CO-MANAGEMENT AND COMMUNITY BASED APPROACH
Fisheries co-management can be viewed as a set of institutional and organizational
arrangements (rights and rules), which define the co-operation among the fisheries
administration and relevant fishing communities (Nielsen
and Vedsmand, 1999; Nielsen et al., 2004).
According to the APFIC (2006), Fisheries/aquaculture
co-management is a partnership approach where government and the fishery/aquaculture
resource users share the responsibility and authority for the management of
fisheries/aquaculture resources in an area, based on collaboration between themselves
and with other stake holders.
Despite various constraints in management of inland fisheries in Bangladesh,
there is a clear potential for co-management in the country but this will only
be successful under the necessary preconditions are met. In this regard, it
is essential to develop a dynamic partnership between neighboring communities
and interest groups as well as the government to support a greater participatory
approach, using the capacities and interest of the former complemented by the
ability of the later to offer enabling legislation and administration. Hence,
co-management and its implementation are in its early stages in the country
but may be the key to alternative fisheries resource management in future.
Earlier experience has demonstrated that floodplain where fishery activity
is being practiced regularly have better environment in compared to those underutilized
from fisheries point of view. Fishery development initiatives through following
scientifically based norms may play a pivotal role in conserving the floodplains
increased fish production and gainful employment to thousands of people. The
seasonal floodplains particularly the beels are regarded as common resources.
The active participation of Government, Non-government Organizations (NGOs),
organized fishers groups and other stakeholders are essential for co-management
and sustainable development of the fisheries co-management. Delegation of rights
to certain user groups regarding utilization and management of floodplain resources
may restrict the access of the common mass which may give rise to conflict.
Moreover, delegation of rights is generally not successful without collective
action (Apu et al., 1999; Viswanathan,
2003; Ahmed et al., 2004). Bhaumik
(2002) reported that whenever there were multiple uses of natural resources,
there was competition and conflict among the different users. The main way to
conflict resolution should be to attain balance among different uses. Building
consensus among stakeholders like co-management with participatory approach
on the objectives and levels of use of natural resources is essential for sustainable
Various (fisheries co-management) projects in Bangladesh have adopted different
community involvement approaches to encourage and support effective and equitable
management systems. Begum et al. (2006) reported
that in CBFM approach the grass root level peoples organization formed
by the primary resource user groups i.e. the CBOs are playing the vital role
for managing the fisheries resources. Hossain et al.
(2006) reported that there is a positive potential for co-management in
Bangladesh but this will only be successful under the ideal conditions. In this
regard, it is essential to develop a dynamic partnership between neighboring
communities and interest groups and the government to support a greater participatory
approach, using the different capacities and interest.
Community Based Fisheries Management (CBFM) is a new tool for the sustainable
management of inland fisheries resources. Through this approach, water bodies
are operated and managed by the local communities. Several activities like-
establishment of sanctuaries, fish habitat restoration, construction of fish
friendly structures, stocking of fingerlings, rehabilitation of endangered species
and implementation of fish acts and laws etc. have been executed in the CBFM
water bodies. As a result, users right is established in the water bodies
by the fishers and other stakeholders residing around the water bodies. On the
other hand, fish production and fish biodiversity increase significantly (DOF,
The role of local community based fisheries management is one of the most interesting
and potentially rewarding ones in terms of establishing local responsibility
for natural resources, improving the efficiency and accountability of management
and creating structures whose economic outputs and social distribution features
could offer the potential to be self-sustaining in delivering equitable outcomes.
If these are combined with rehabilitation of water bodies to create better access
and better habitat for fish stocks, or where low levels of stocks can be enhanced
with the addition of new seed these potentials can be even more marked. However,
the difficulty of establishing and making operational these systems cannot be
underestimated. Otherwise, they confront existing power structures and have
inadequate internal strengths. Time for durable self-sustaining management structures
involving poorer groups is also considerable. The requirements for resource
management data and the means to apply these in effective management action
are also relatively less tested at this stage. The costs for support and information
supply and management and the unproven effectiveness of sanctions for non-compliance
with management controls are also practical concerns. Notwithstanding these
issues, community-based approaches, perhaps if extended to embrace a more complete
array of livelihood components in which communities may have a role and represent
one of the few means by which these systems might managed (DOF,
Tripathi et al. (1999) reported that group management
was an effective tool for enhancement of fish production from the stocking of
small beels based on the results of an experiment in three beels of Mymensingh
in Bangladesh. DoF (DOF, 2003) reported that stocking
activities in beels and oxbow lakes could generate positive financial returns
and moderate production costs through floodplain stocking by private entrepreneurs,
or in association with government or NGO initiatives.
SCENARIO FROM BANGLADESH
Bangladesh has built up a comprehensive experience of community-based management
for inland capture fisheries over the last 2 decades, supported by several projects
(Government and donor aided). Community based management of resources is a time-driven
and successful activity initiated by DoF. Bangladesh is emerging as a country
of having positive lessons from community based management of open water. Consultative
Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) awarded CGIAR Science Award-2004
to Community Based Fisheries Management Project (CBFM-2) of DoF for its outstanding
innovative performance in the field of community-based fisheries management.
The establishment of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and village level
sub committees has been recognized as the first and fundamental step in creating
sustainable co-management of fisheries resources in decision making process
by users group. Initial work
on networking by community-based organizations has been started at regional
level. More emphasis has been given to work with community based fisheries management
in the inland capture fisheries sub-strategy. Stocking of small and medium sized
water bodies by government in association with a local user group is rated highly
in terms of employment generation and sustainability but inefficiencies and
in some cases corruption are likely to reduce profitability and wages to labour.
This has generally been the experience with co-management initiatives under
the new fisheries management policy and this has led some to compare these approaches
unfavourably with CBFM initiatives. Constraints to development are however rather
few and probably significantly less than those for stocking with CBFM. In particular,
real organisational and transactions costs are likely to be lower. Furthermore,
government takes on much of the risk, initial investment and organisational
costs. Enforcement is likely to be more or less difficult depending on the relationship
between government and fishers and particular local circumstances. Sustainability
is likely to be relatively high given the resilience of government led institutions.
Overall we would rate this activity positively and suggest that different co-management
arrangements are worth of greater exploration.
DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES EXPERIENCES
Department of Fisheries (DoF), Bangladesh has a long history of involvement
in community-based approaches to fisheries management. The important projects
undertaken by the government of Bangladesh were Oxbow-lake Project-2 (OLP-2)
(1988-1997), Community Based Fisheries Management (CBFM) Project (1995-1999),
CBFM 2 (2001-2006), Third Fisheries Project (TFP) (1991-1996), Fourth Fisheries
Project (FFP) (1999-2006) and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems through Community
Husbandry (MACH) Project (1998-2007). The production and economic performance
of floodplain aquaculture projects have been impressive; and they were perceived
to have a positive effect on local economies, general livelihood/food security
and peoples nutritional status
and employment opportunities.
In 1988 the Oxbow-lake project 2 (OLP-2) first initiated the co-management
system and was successfully implemented in the Oxbow Lakes in the southwest
part of Bangladesh. The change in fingerling stocking methods, credit schemes,
monitoring by member fishers during stocking, the general willingness of the
fishers to produce more fish and cooperation among them had resulted in the
effective implementation of the co-management system. The implementation of
co-management system at Oxbow Lakes was successful in enhancing the fish production
as well as the welfare of the society. Moreover, the adoption of a new technology,
like carp poly-culture technology
by the fishers has been successful in enhancing fish production.
Under the Third Fisheries Project (TFP), 0.1 million hectare of floodplains
in the western part of the country, particularly in major depressions in the
Khulna-Narail, Gopalganj-Madaripur and Chalan Beel regions, were stocked in
phases, using 6 to 12 cm fingerlings of major carps with a stocking density
of 20 to 30 kg ha-1. By stocking carp fingerlings at 30 kg ha-1,
a total incremental production of fish at 300 kg ha-1, representing
10 times the weight of stocked fingerlings was obtained (Islam,
In 1995, Department of Fisheries with five Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
and International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM) under
a partnership program worked with fishing communities in 19 water bodies in
Bangladesh with a view to establish local user management institutions under
the Community Based Fisheries Management (CBFM) Project. The Project was designed
as an action research project to test and assess alternative models of government-NGO-fisher
collaboration for the management of inland fisheries of Bangladesh. The emphasis
in the CBFM project was on developing a framework for community-based fisheries
management and ensured more sustainable exploitation of open water fisheries
resources for future generations (Rahman, 2002).
The second phase of the project, CBFM 2, supported by Department for International
Development (DFID) covered 116 water bodies (14 closed beels, 28 floodplains,
8 haor beels, 28 open beels and 38 river sections). It succeeded in the establishment
of 130 Community Based Organizations (CBOs) through community development work
by 11 partner NGOs (Dickson, 2007).
The Fourth Fisheries Project (1999-2006) had an open water component which
was implemented mainly in public lands and advocated stocking of native carp
species Rui, Catla and Mrigal with a stocking density of 10 kg (around 1000
fingerlings)/ha/yr. A Floodplain Management Committee was responsible for overall
management of the floodplains. The open water fisheries component established
45 Community Based Organizations in 39 water bodies covering about 18,000 ha.
Fish catches and biodiversity were increased through establishment of fish sanctuaries
and in some sites regular stocking of fish (Rahman, 2002;
WorldFish Center, 2007a).
Management of Aquatic Ecosystems through Community Husbandry (MACH) Project
(1998-2007) approach for sustainable wetland management initiated the establishment
for Resource Management Organizations (RMOs). Since 1998, the Management of
Aquatic Ecosystems through Community Husbandry (MACH) project has established
16 Community Based Organizations representing 110 villages that improved
management of about 25,000 ha of wetlands. In Management of Aquatic Ecosystem
through Community Husbandry (MACH) project sites, fish catch increased by 2
to 5 times over baseline catch before intervention, from 58-171-315- 390 kg
ha-1 between 2004-2005. Due to the project interventions, 8-10 threatened
fish species have re-appeared (WorldFish Center, 2007b).
The project Community based fish culture in seasonal floodplains and
irrigation systems (2005-2010) was implemented in Bangladesh by the WorldFish
Center in collaboration with Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC,
2001) and the Department of Fisheries (DOF). It is worthwhile to mention
that this project was developed based on the outcomes of the works carried out
by the WorldFish Center in Bangladesh and Vietnam (WFC, 2005).
The outcomes of the previous works showed very high potential of using the seasonal
floodplains for fish culture. It was important to understand more about the
productivity and the contribution of aquatic resources to water productivity,
technical and institutional aspects in order to bring these vast water resources
(2.8 million ha) under fish culture using community based approach. Under this
project fish culture program was operated through involvement of local communities
(all types of resource users) as per agreed benefit sharing arrangement under
the guidance and supervision of Floodplain Management Committee (FMC) and Project
Implementation Committee (PIC) (Rahman, 2010; Sheriff
et al., 2010). Under this project stocking of large sized (30±4.59-46±5.98
g) fingerlings of carps at varying proportion at the rate of 42±7.23
kg ha-1 enhanced fish production by 353±201% over the baseline
level and 413±52% as compared to non-intervention seasonal floodplains.
Non-stocked fish species diversity increased by 23±10% over the baseline
abundance and 17±1% as compared to non-intervention seasonal floodplains.
The fishes were grown for 5 to 6 months. The project intervention also generated
net income ranging from BDT 2677-16279 ha year-1 with an average
of 10491±5424/ha/yr which is nine folds higher than the baseline income
(BDT 1176±668 ha year-1) (Rahman et
al., 2011). Pronounced positive changes were noted in the livestock
population, housing condition, sanitation and fish consumption of the beneficiaries
after the project intervention. The technological interventions were highly
successful in elevating the socio-economic status of the beneficiaries. Effective
management of the floodplains, group dynamics and overall supervision and coordination
contributed to the success of the research project (Rahman,
EXPERIENCES FROM DAUDKANDI APPROACH
In recent years, fish culture in seasonal floodplains, by stocking of fingerlings
and application of feeds and fertilizers on a regular basis, was established
in Daudkandi, Comilla district, the central part of Bangladesh. These projects
were functioning on the principle of company system incorporating some concepts
of CBFM. Companys major shares were confined to the landowners of the
respective floodplain, local NGO named SHISUK (Shikhya Shastha and Unnayan Karjakram)
and a small portion of share was reserved for the local poor people who could
afford to buy the share. The company was undertaking semi-intensive fish culture,
largely in privately owned closed water bodies. These projects made significant
contribution to rural economy in terms of enhance food security and employment
generation. Though, these projects were operating successfully but some negative
consequences were reported. These projects reduced the open access of the rural
poor people to catch fish which affected their food security and livelihood
(Gregory et al., 2007; Toufique
and Gregory, 2008).
INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS IN CBFM APPROACH
Depending on different socio economical, cultural, environmental factors and
accessible natural resources, a wide range of institutional arrangements have
been established for different CBFM approaches. The principal features of the
Community Based Fisheries Management (CBFM) approach are to organize and motivate
fisher community and mobilize them socially to ensure their access to the resources
(WorldFish Center, 2007a).
Realizing the limitations of the above approach, a much wider views were incorporated
in the subsequent initiatives. Here, the active participation of the local community
(such as landowners, landless and fishers) living in the vicinity of the floodplain
were involved comprehensively in undertaking all fish culture activities such
as, formation of floodplain management committee (FMC), planning, budgeting,
fencing, stocking, post stocking management, harvesting and marketing of fish.
The floodplain management committees were responsible for directing and guiding
the beneficiaries. The enlisted beneficiaries received their financial net benefits
as per earlier sharing arrangements. However, the sustainability of the institutional
arrangements and ensuring qualitative participation of local resource user groups
under CBFM approach in Bangladesh are yet to be determined (Thompson,
2004; Shelly, 2004; Tsai and
Ali, 1985, 1987; Ahmed, 1997;
Apu and Middendorp, 1997; Hossain
and Rahman, 1998; Khan, 1997). Ahmed
(1997) made a study on socio-economic and policy issues in the floodplain
fisheries and concluded that the tenure rights of common people to derive benefits
from participation in harvesting, resources management and development activities
in the floodplains should be recognized and protected. Thompson
(2004) reported that, to empowering fishing communities, development of
local fisher base organizations like CBOs, co-management for empowering fishing
communities and local government support for CBOs or FMCs was important for
sustainable management of seasonal floodplains. For fisheries management in
seasonal floodplains community based organizations played an important role
to improve the resource condition (Dey and Kanagaratnam,
2007). The Floodplain Management Committee (FMC) and Project Implementation
Committee (PIC) were the prime requirement for community based fish culture
in seasonal floodplains (Rahman, 2010; Sheriff
et al., 2010). Active participation and involvement of the local
community people in all stages of fish culture operation beginning from selection
of floodplains, formation of floodplain management committee, planning of fish
culture activities, exercise of technical intervention and distribution of benefits
were extremely essential to ensure sustainability of the program. Selection
of sincere, honest and devoted floodplain management committee president and
members having previous experience and leadership quality was a vital requirement.
Mutual trust, sense of respect and good working relationship among the committee
members were the basic social elements required for the success of community
based fish culture initiatives (Rahman, 2010, Rahman
et al., 2008).
It has been reported that awareness raising workshops and meetings at the community
level were the most important tools to motivate the community people. Before
starting the fish culture activities and during the implementation period a
series of community level meetings were organized with project beneficiaries,
local elites, Union Parishad Chairman and Members, District Fisheries Officer,
Senior Upazila Fisheries Officer/Upazila Fisheries Officer, Research Enumerator
and project team in each of the intervention sites to find out the intervention
tools and management strategies. They also reported that exchange visits were
arranged for the beneficiaries of each of the intervention floodplains. There
were reciprocal exchanges of visits of the beneficiaries of different floodplains.
The beneficiaries had the opportunity to share ideas, exchange views and experiences
among themselves. They discussed on various matters relating to formation of
the floodplain management committee, planning and implementation process, operating
the joint bank account, benefit-sharing arrangement, conflict resolution and
future course of action (Rahman, 2010; Sheriff
et al., 2010).
TECHNOLOGICAL INTERVENTIONS IN CBFM IN SEASONAL FLOODPLAINS
A number of studies were conducted in the 1980s to test the technical feasibility
of culturing fish in seasonally flooded rice fields in India (Roy
et al., 1990; Das et al., 1990; Mukhopadhyay
et al., 1991), Bangladesh (Ali et al.,
1993), Cambodia (Gregory and Guttman, 1996; Guttman,
1999) and Vietnam (Rothuis et al., 1998a,
b). These studies showed that fish production could
be increased by more than 1000 kg/ha/year by stocking flooded rice fields with
fish. Previous study indicated that various natural causes and human activities
resulted in considerable degradation in inland aquatic resources. Inland fisheries
resources and biodiversity in terms of species, habitats and genetic composition
of fish deteriorated alarmingly. Establishment of aquatic sanctuaries and stocking
of fingerlings as part of a management program could regenerate natural recruitment
and increase fish production in open water systems (Islam
and Kaiya, 2005).
Fisheries enhancements, qualitative and quantitative improvement of fisheries
can be achieved by exercising specific management options. These options include
inlet-outlet management through enclosures, increasing the existing fish stocks
(stock enhancement), introduction/transplantation of new fish species (species
enhancements), improving the environment (habitat enhancements), changing the
exploitation means/norms (management enhancements) and enhancement through new
culture systems. The success of stock enhancement of floodplain fisheries depends
on- a) the development of a stocking strategy appropriate to the floodplain
system (i.e., choice of floodplains with greatest potential, durability of accessible
flood land water, species composition, fingerling size at first stocking, stocking
density, fingerling supply sources, floodplain management, etc. and b) the development
of appropriate institutional arrangements for managing both the stocking programme
and the floodplain environment: A key component of this is cost recovery.
Although, the earlier CBFM approach showed promising results for enhancing
fish production in the floodplains but in many cases results were poor in terms
of yield, fish abundance, biodiversity and overall management of the system.
Earlier efforts were mainly centered on formation of CBO, stocking of fish fingerlings,
supervision, monitoring, harvesting of fish and distribution of benefits. Technical
options on different dimensions of fish culture in the floodplains were obscured.
Considering the variation in management performance and success of technical
interventions future research was needed, in order to improve understanding
why the technical options was successful at some sites but not in others. However,
there is growing evidence from studies worldwide that CBFM can empower communities
to enforce responsible management practices which in turn can lead to sustainable
harvests and fair access. The availability of information regarding such interventions
is still very scarce due to lack of research in this field. In the light of
the diverse agro-ecological conditions, climate and environmental change, socio-cultural
situation, availability of accessible water resources and their biological productivity,
there is a wide scope of research that still needs to be explored for adoption
of successful community based co-management systems in Bangladesh.
Seasonal floodplains offer a unique opportunity to enclose parts of the flooded
areas to produce a fish crop through stocking of fingerlings along with non-stocked
indigenous species without affecting the agriculture activity. Effective utilization
of floodwater can result in more production and increased household consumption
and income for all stakeholders depending on the system. Research conducted
in Bangladesh and Vietnam has demonstrated that community-based fish culture
in rice fields could increase yield by about 600 kg/ha/year in shallow flooded
areas and up to 1500 kg/ha/year in deep-flooded areas, without reducing the
rice yield or wild fish catch (Dey and Prein, 2005,
2006; Dey et al., 2005).
Seasonal floodplains being the major share of our open water resources could
contribute significantly to national fish production with adoption of locally
suitable technical management practices in cost-effective way. A good number
of attempts were made to bring the floodplains under community based fisheries
management programs for enhancing fish production, rural employment generation
and livelihood security of the rural poors. These initiatives mainly focused
on management issues such as, formation of Community Based Organization (CBOs),
selective stocking of major carps and harvestings. So far, no comprehensive
attempt was made to explore the possibility of exercising technical options
to judge its merit for maximizing fish production in seasonal floodplains across
the country. Rahman (2010) showed the effectiveness of
various technological interventions (fencing, stocking, post-stocking management
and harvesting strategies) on fish production, biodiversity and livelihood enhancement
of the local communities through undertaking fish culture program in six seasonal
floodplains (three experimental sites- Beel Mail, Kalmina Beel and Angrar Beel
floodplain; three control sites-chandpur beel andula beel and painglar Beel
floodplain) under community based management approach. The floodplains were
located in three major river basins (the Padma, the Teesta and the Brahmaputra)
in Bangladesh with community involvement approach where fishers, landless, land
owners included as beneficiaries of the floodplains in the form of Community
Based Organizations (CBOs). The study was materialized under three broad sub-headings
such as (1)-Determination of appropriate technological intervention for increasing
fish production in seasonal floodplains (2)-Impact of stocking on fish biodiversity
in seasonal floodplains and (3)-Assessment of the livelihood status of beneficiaries
involved in culture of fish in seasonal floodplain. After two years of study
he concluded that technological interventions in seasonal floodplains brought
out remarkable positive changes in enhancing fish production and biodiversity
which ensured increased economic return and livelihood improvement of the beneficiaries.
These changes were reflected in the acquisition of physical assets of the beneficiaries.
This study also demonstrated that seasonal floodplains in Bangladesh hold tremendous
potential for obtaining increased supply of fish for meeting the acute shortage
of animal protein. If an effective mechanism could be developed for better utilization
of these resources on a sustainable basis, then the challenges of quality food,
nutrition, rural employment and income generation would be largely met. This
ultimately ensured social peace and prosperity among the rural communities.
In this regard, introduction of technological management could ensure sustainable
fish yields along with the conservation and management of naturally recruiting
fish species. Extensive aquaculture practice in the seasonal floodplains could
be chosen as an effective tool for increasing fish production and strengthening
the rural economy of the country. Therefore, an effective integration of technical,
financial, social and human resources are urgently needed for obtaining desirable
outputs from seasonal floodplains in terms of food security and better living
standards for the rural people. Production of stocked fish (endemic and exotic
carps) exhibited pronounced increase from their base level position after technical
interventions exercised in the seasonal floodplains. The average baseline fish
production of the intervention seasonal floodplains was 124±137 kg/ha/year
and after technical interventions it was 421±228 kg/ha/year (Rahman,
2010). The mean fish production as achieved from the floodplains under the
project was higher than the national average of 281 kg ha-1 from
the floodplains (DOF, 2010). This was largely due to the
implications of community-based management practices including technical interventions
of fish culture in the floodplains.
COMMUNITY BASED FISH CULTURE IN SEASONAL FLOODPLAINS AND FISH BIODIVERSITY
In simple word biodiversity means the number and assemblage of different species
of organisms in a particular environment. The term fish biodiversity means the
totality of fish living in a particular water body. Bangladesh is rich in aquatic
fish biodiversity with 260 freshwater fish species where minnows, catfish, eels,
perch, gobies, clupeids and 24 species of prawns constitute the major portion
(DOF, 2009). Finfish species which are smaller in size
are termed as Small Indigenous Species (SIS) or locally known as miscellaneous
fishes. These small fishes naturally grow in the inland open water resources,
which are easily accessible to rural poor people and still serve as main sources
of animal protein as well as micronutrients (Thilsted et
Mamun and Thompson (2004) and reported purposive stocking
as one of the ways to enhance fish production in floodplains. There is a concern
that the introduction of large scale stocking of carps in open waters might
affect the ecosystem and biodiversity leading to an adverse impact on non-stocked
indigenous fish (Ali, 1997). It was found that single
stocking of carps each year with a density of 3000-4000 fingerlings/ha/year
with a rational species composition did not affect yield of indigenous fish.
Hossain et al. (2000) made a study on biodiversity
of fish fauna in three south-western floodplains of Bangladesh with special
reference to fish fingerling stocking. After five years of investigation
they found that the stocking program had positive influenced in fish biodiversity
in floodplains. A significant loss in aquatic biodiversity has already occurred
worldwide (Moyle and William, 1990). Therefore, conservation
and maintenance of aquatic biodiversity is a universal concern. A rich diversity
of fish fauna is significant to the ecology and sustainable productivity of
the floodplains. Degradation of aquatic environment resulting from human interferences
and natural causes posed negative implications on fish diversity in Bangladesh.
Craig et al. (2004) reported that during monsoon
the Bangladesh floodplain became integrated into a single biological productive
system. About 20 to 30 fish species in the floodplain and tolerant of low levels
of oxygen provide the majority of the national freshwater fish production.
All these studies reported the reduction in the production and biodiversity
of the floodplains resources and suggested the ways of restoring it without
further deterioration as it was linked with the livelihoods of lots of poor
and vulnerable people in the country. It is now urgent to consider how to avert
the degradation, over exploitation and other causes of reduction of production
and biodiversity of the floodplains to restore its situation without further
degradation. It is always considered that technological improvement may be an
important way to augment fish production in the floodplain with active involvement
of people, institutions and approaches in a sustainable way.
Rahman (2010) reported increasing trends of number of
fish species over the initial level after technological interventions at the
three selected seasonal floodplains in Bangladesh. The study also showed that
species diversity exhibited average the species diversity which was noted to
be enhanced by 23±10% in comparison to baseline of the intervention seasonal
floodplains and 17±1% as compared to control floodplains.
ECONOMIC PROFITABILITY AND LIVELIHOOD OUTCOMES
Studies on the management of seasonal floodplain resources and active participation
of the stakeholders under different conditions in Bangladesh are of great importance
in formulation of optimal strategies for sustainable livelihood development.
There is ample scope of research to identify potential and resource in terms
of availability and accessibility of the resources as well as sustainability
of the possible development approaches. Co-management research should pay particular
attention to ensure equitable distribution of the benefits towards different
components of the society. Rahman (2010) reported fish
culture in all the seasonal floodplains to be profitable under the present set
of management arrangements. There had been 9 fold (from BDT 1176±668
to BDT 10491±5423) net increase in the financial benefit derived from
per hectare of seasonal floodplains after the project intervention. The study
indicated that the beneficiaries could be enormously benefited from fish culture
activities in seasonal floodplains. A recent study showed significant increase
of the household income for the subsequent higher income groups (BDT 50, 001-
00,000 and >BDT 100,000) in case of three experimental seasonal floodplains
in three river basin areas in Bangladesh (Fig. 2-4)
(Rahman, 2010; Rahman et al.,
2011). The enhanced income of the respondents appeared to be derived from
fish culture activities in the seasonal floodplain.
The study also reported that proportion of kutcha houses were reduced in all
the seasonal floodplain beneficiaries in an average of 13%. Semi pucca houses
were increased by 12% in those areas. About 3% increased in the pucca houses
was noted in case of Beel Mail floodplain after the project intervention. Though
the project was of short duration but it yielded positive outcome in the housing
condition of the respondents. Significant positive changes (p<0.05) took
place in the sanitary conditions of the respondents in the selected floodplains.
Very remarkable positive changes occurred in case of pucca toilets after the
project intervention. Percentages increased in the pucca toilets were noted
to be 14% in Beel Mail floodplain, 20% in Kalmina Beel floodplain and 13% in
Angrar Beel floodplain. Rahman (2010) also concluded
that the project intervention was successful in improving the overall status
of sanitary condition of the respondents in all the selected seasonal floodplains.
There was a pronounced positive change in the involvement of increased number
of fishermen in fish harvesting activities for a much longer period in all the
floodplains owing to intervention. He also stated that there was significant
increase in the rate of fish consumption among the respondents family
members directly involved with the selected floodplains during the period of
intervention. It was demonstrated that project intervention had been successful
in elevating the fish consumption rate of the beneficiaries of the concerned
|| Distribution of respondents in Beel Mail floodplain according
to their level of income, (a) Before and (b) After intervention
|| Distribution of respondents in Kalmina Beel floodplain according
to their level of income, (a) Before and (b) After intervention
|| Distribution of respondents in Angrar Beel floodplain according
to their level of income (a) Before and (b) After intervention
||Floodplain wise average changes in per capita fish consumption
This enhanced fish consumption rate was due to spectacular increase in fish
production in the respective floodplains (Fig. 5). Furthermore,
the fishes were easily available to the local communities as they were sold
instantly at the landing sites at a much lower price as determined by the Floodplain
Management Committee. The fishes were made available to the door-steps of the
local people by the mobile fish traders at an affordable price.
Form this study, the following conclusions can be drawn:
||A comprehensive resource survey should be conducted to assess
the seasonal floodplain resources, the potentiality and risk factors in
relation to environmental and climate change for future resource mapping
||The government should form a national policy to ensure the accessibility
of the seasonal floodplain water bodies the community of real beneficiaries
providing technical and management support under DoF/MoFL
||The government should undertake a special development project to bring
all prospective seasonal floodplains (both public and private) under fish
culture program through active supervision and guidance of DoF to enhance
fish production and improve socioeconomic condition of the community people
||The competent authority should instruct the commercial bank and financial
institution to open up new windows to provide financial support to the community
people for fish culture in seasonal floodplains on soft terms and conditions
||The Department of Fisheries in collaboration with local government institutions
should take pragmatic steps to create mass awareness regarding the usefulness,
potentials and multi-dimensional benefit of seasonal floodplains in deriving
livelihood support of the beneficiaries
||The DoF should provide training and motivational support to the local
community people to culture fish in the seasonal floodplains
||The government should ensure the secure access to public water bodies
for those CBOs that have a legal identity, community rules, compliance to
rules, equitable access for poor stakeholders to decision making
||The government should develop a set of criteria and procedures for of
the effectiveness of Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and their activities.
Local government and the community should do these regular reviews jointly
||Government should end collecting revenue from the public water bodies
where the local community will ensure conservation of wetland resources.
A legal framework should be established for these kinds of sanctuaries and
an agreement with local communities must be signed by the government
To achieve the sustainable development of community based fish culture in seasonal
floodplains the following issues need to be considered:
||Maximum fieldwork before final selection of the water body
||Medium size of water bodies should be selected for proper management
||During the selection time, illegally occupied public water bodies should
||All the stakeholders of the surrounding areas of the floodplains should
be included in the fish culture process
||Poverty focus- poor people can get the benefit
||Required minimum development cost of water bodies should be considered
||Existing institutional arrangements and peoples willing to participate
need to be considered
||Longer inundation period and larger effective water area should need to
||Inlet-outlet system, physical accessibility, harvesting and marketing
facilities also need to be considered before final selection of the water
||Selection of sincere, honest and devoted floodplain management committee
president and members having previous experience and leadership quality
is a vital requirement
||Early stocking for maximizing the production period and ultimately very
helpful for better production
||Ensuring quality fingerlings for better production
||Early preparation of flood control measures are also vital
||Gradual harvesting of larger fishes for maximizing the total production
||Farm gate marketing will ensure the quality of fishes and also ensure
the better prices
||Sharing arrangements among the stakeholders should be settled before stocking
or at least before harvesting
||Awareness raising workshop and exchange visit for community based fish
culture activities in seasonal floodplains
||Public water bodies need to extend the leasing period for long term sustainability
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