USAID_Enhanced Coastal Fisheries in Bangladesh (ECOFISH-Bangladesh)_Annual Report Oct 2018 to Dec 2019
- Enhanced Coastal Fisheries in Bangladesh (ECOFISH-Bangladesh) is a five-year initiative ended 31 December 2019. United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded ECOFISH-BD, and WorldFish and the Department of Fisheries (DoF), Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, jointly implemented it. ECOFISH supported coastal fishing communities and other fisheries value chain stakeholders to improve the resilience of the Meghna River ecosystem and communities reliant on coastal fisheries. The primary pathway is through the establishment of adaptive co-management in hilsa shad (Tenualosa ilisha) sanctuaries supported by advancement in fisheries science and promoting alternative income generating activities, biodiversity conservation and development of policies and incentives for fisheries conservation. The end-line MSY (Maximum Sustainable Yield) of hilsa, as estimated in 2019, is 721,000 metric tons and the actual harvestable amount is 690,000 metric tons at the present level of first capture (25 cm TL). The result clearly indicate a huge increase of hilsa biomass in Bangladesh waters. The exploitation level has also been increased and gradually moving towards the optimum level. Another important achievement that will positively influence the hilsa management is acceptance of ECOFISH recommended allowable mesh size, 6.5 cm for hilsa fishing gillnets, for which government will soon issue a gazette notification. Confirmation of having three hilsa sub-specie/races in Bangladesh waters and spawning in the natal rivers through DNA analysis resolved long-time dispute and will help in formulating new spatial based management policy for hilsa fishery in Bangladesh. Co-management involving 136 villages along the sanctuaries, functioning of 400 Community Fish Guards (CFGs), establishment and functioning of Hilsa Conservation and Development Fund (HCDF), and development of the Model Resilient Fishing Village are other important milestones of the project. Declaration of the Nijhum Dwip MPA by a government gazette notification and formulation of its management plan will remain as remarkable achievements of the project. Finally, formation and functioning 148 CSGs involving 4,125 women who have saved US$ 159,210 will remain an example of economic empowerment women in the fishing communities and will serve as lessons for others. Following those remarkable achievements, USAID has been generous in extending the ECOFISH activities in its Zone of Resilience (ZOR), Cox’s Bazar.
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