USAID Enhanced Coastal Fisheries in Bangladesh II Annual Report (December 1, 2019 –December 31, 2020)
- This Annual Report describes the accomplishments and achievements of ECOFISH II from December 2019 to December 2020. Activities in ZOR were implemented with the key partnerships of Shushilan, Chattogram Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (CVASU) and Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST). In addition, Falcon International Ltd. was closely involved with the project to develop and expand seaweeds and green mussels farming, and created market linkages for fishers’ livelihood improvement. In the MRE, Noakhali Science and Technology University (NSTU) and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU) were associated with the implementation. IUCN was engaged to work along with the project teams for developing MPA management plan and fishers’ livelihood improvement in the Nijhum Dwip MR/MPA. Target activities on ecosystem health management, coastal biodiversity conservation and monitoring of coastal fisheries dynamics were achieved under the first sub-IR1 (Improved science outputs for decision-making). Four universities (BSMRAU, CVASU, NSTU, and SUST) played important roles in achieving the science outputs. BSMRAU measured nutrient concentrations focusing on Dissolved Inorganic Phosphate (DIP) and Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen (DIN) concentrations, and assessed seasonal variations in plankton composition in different locations of the lower Meghna River and the Nijhum Dwip MPA. To improve ecosystem health, ECOFISH II ZOR Team collected plastic and net materials from shore areas as well as from fishing vessels to reduce sea pollution. In partnership with CVASU, assessment of fish biodiversity and spawning season through sampling and identification of fish larvae was conducted. Total 6,980 fish larval specimens, representing 22 families, were identified and documented. ECOFISH II team conducted several awareness building activities on catfish conservation throughout the MRE regions and distributed 10 thousands of colorful leaflets and 3 thousands posters among the stakeholders with various messages on Pangas conservation. In addition, a GIS map of all important nursery grounds of Pangas juveniles in the lower Meghna River was produced to facilitate precise actions in juvenile conservation. The new MPA delineation activities in the ‘Naf-St. Martin’s Island’ areas were conducted in partnership with SUST, focusing on assessment of seasonal variability of fish and other fauna and floral species, diversity of major commercial species, and fishing zones. The study revealed 905 species-covering organisms from primary producers to top predators, including 230 finfish, 48 reef fish, 21 shrimps, 5 lobsters, 13 crab and 180 mollusks. A fishing calendar and a biodiversity wheel showing the relative abundance of major species was produced. Based on the information, it was strongly evident that there was a necessity and scope for declaration of an MPA for which four biodiversity zones at four levels of protection were suggested for effective conservation of biodiversity and better management of the protected areas. As part of continued efforts of megafauna conservation, ECOFISH II rescued 25 Olive Ridley (Vulnerable) and 1 Hawksbill (Critically endangered) entangled turtles from the fishing nets and released them into the sea with the assistance of the trained skippers. 180 boat skippers were trained on megafauna conservation focusing on how to save and release the entangled turtles and dolphins. Fish landing in quantity, species compositions and wholesale price were regularly monitored in four major fish landing centers in CXB including the BFDC landing center. The assessment revealed 100 commercial finfish species predominantly landed in the areas. Hilsa landing was the highest (1,344 tons) in September and the highest market price was observed in December 2020. Detailed size compositions of top 10 commercial species were monitored in BFDC landing center. In addition, 20 Citizen Scientists, equipped with Smart Phone and Bangla ODK Apps, were engaged in collecting real-time on-board fish catch data. The data revealed the average catch per unit effort (CPUE) as 14 kg/day/boat. However, the highest average CPUE as 27 kg was observed in September 2020. The activities on the formation and strengthening of co-management institutions were conducted in ZOR under the second Sub-IR1. ECOFISH II team and project partner Shushilan concurrently worked in 15 villages in Teknaf and Ukhiya, and IUCN worked at 11 villages in MRE (MPA sites) to establish co-management building blocks. Total 518 training-meetings were conducted during this reporting period following the formation of 96 (75 in ZOR and 21 in MRE) Fisheries Conservation Groups (FCGs) covering 16,289 participants (19% women). A significant success in this quarter was the successful arrangement of the joint meeting of co-management and hilsa development task force with the department of fisheries at different levels including 139 FMC, 7 Union, 18 Upazila and 2 districts level. These meetings especially focused on the compliance to the Jatka conservation and Brood Hilsa fishing ban. Detailed status on local level capacity building at different co-management tiers is stated in Section 9.5. In ZOR, the project introduced innovative AIGAs in the form of community-led blue food farming that includes seaweeds (Hypnea, Enteromorpha, Gelidium, Sargassum sp, Ulva sp, Dictyota sp, Porphyra sp, Padina sp and Gracilaria sp) and green mussels, and mud crab fattening. In spite of the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, the team worked hard to achieve the targets. The project also provided training to 200, 100 and 24 beneficiaries in ZOR on seaweed farming, green mussel farming, and crab fattening, respectively. Total 30,230 kg dried seaweeds was harvested in 2020. Falcon International Ltd. and CVASU established market linkages for seaweeds and green mussel to ensure fair price for the communities for their products. The project trained 500 poor fishers’ women in four Upazila in Cox’s Bazar on production of safe and hygienic dry fish. The fisherwomen was provided support to prepare bamboo-made fish drying platform (maccha) and fresh marine pelagic fish to improve their family nutrition and economic benefits. In 2020, ECOFISH II team provided livelihood supports to 3,644 HHs in ZOR (2,834), MPA (700) and Haloishar Model Fishing village (110) in different enterprises. The categories of these supports were goat, followed by fish drying business, poultry (including chicken, duck, pigeon, turkey), seaweed, green mussels, mushroom, agriculture, crab fattening, raw fish business, she cows, grocery shops, and aquaculture. ECOFISH II also provided winter vegetable seeds to 2,000 fishing households in Teknaf and Ukhiya. ECOFISH II introduced some community and nature-based technologies in the context of Cox’s Bazar to enhance their resilient livelihoods. ECOFISH II continued to support its beneficiary through community savings group (CSG) activities with a particular focus on promoting livelihood improvement-oriented micro-entrepreneurship. Up to 31 December 2020, 177 CSGs (148 in MRE and 29 in ZOR) have been established who saved cumulatively USD 168,170 (BDT 141,263,05). In 2020, 537 women received soft loans and from this savings. Many of the CSG members started small scale business such as chicken rearing, bamboo basket making, grocery shops, goats, cattle rearing, etc. In response to the Cyclone Amphan, USAID extended generous support through ECOFISH II to 426 worst affected fishing households with an approved budget of US$ 29,303. The Amphan affected 226 HHs received cash supports for boat repairing (44), shelter repairing (100), seaweed and green mussel structures repairing (7), and CfW (Cash for Works) to fish labors (50 in BFDC fish landing center). Besides, 200 fishing HHs received vegetable seeds and small livestock. In response to COVID-19 response, USAID approved US$ 5,992 from project budget for implementation of 5 activities following the USAID’s guidelines to protect the fishing communities. The projected created mass awareness (focusing on social distancing, wearing masks, hand washing, etc.) among the fishing community through wide distribution of 25,000 leaflets and posters in the project intervened areas. In the large fish landing centers (10), loudspeaker was used to provide the protective messages, organized speeches through 100 local religious leaders (Imam/priest) during the prayer times in the mosque and temple, provided hand-washing training, and distributed liquid soap to 2,000 fishers and fisher women. In addition, the team provided 10 disinfectant sprayers with chlorinated solution to 10 fish landing centers as a part of good practice that makes them aware of safety protocol and healthy life in the face of this pandemic. Project MEL team generated community level information covering all the intervened villages and integrated in the GIS and Google Earth maps. MEL conducted baseline survey at households and ecological level at ZOR and MPA sites by hiring a reputed consultancy firm. The sample size was 1,200 HHs (600 from intervened and 600 from non-intervened HHs). The thematic areas included household demographic, socioeconomic wellbeing, food security and gender situation. The information also covered shocks, coping strategies and resilience, co-management practice and baseline data on fish production. As communication tools, the project produced awareness building leaflets/posters on COVID-19, megafauna and brood hilsa conservations. The project developed 24 Facebook contents and prepared 18 press releases on major events, and organized wide media coverage. The ECOFISH II communication team also organized virtual round table discussion with the daily Prothom Alo and organized talk show in DBC news as a part of national fish week celebration 2020. Op-ed published in leading national English dailies featured on various aspects on fish nutrition, fisheries/biodiversity conservation, and development issues. The project personnel participated in policy decision meetings of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock and DoF; the Secretary, MoFL, chaired some of the meetings. One meeting decided the brood hilsa ban period from October 14 to November 4 based on the scientific evidence of ECOFISH II activity. Another first ever meeting on the management modality of the Hilsa Conservation and Development Fund (HCDF) was organized in September with participation of the project personnel. Because of the meeting, a part of the interest of the HCDF fund was planned for paying honorarium to the Community Fish Guards (CFGs) as honorarium for their duties during brood hilsa fishing ban in 2020. Additional Secretary, DDs, DFO and high level of officials visited Haloishar Adorsho Matshya Gram (commemorating the Mujib Borsho 2020) in Naria, Shariatpur and the project facilitated the visits. The guests observed livelihood support programs, met fisher women groups (CSGs), and expressed their satisfaction for the supports provided from the project.
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