|This 2nd quarterly progress report of Year 2 describes the accomplishments and achievements of ECOFISH II from April to June 2021 in all the ToOs.
Activities in ZOR were implemented with the key partnerships of Shushilan, Chattogram Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (CVASU), Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) and Noakhali Science and Technology University (NSTU). In addition, Falcon International Ltd has been working closely with the project to develop and expand seaweed, green mussel farming and creating market linkages for fishers’ livelihood improvement. In the MRE, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU) and Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University (SAU) are associated with the project implementation. In the Nijhum Dwip MPA, IUCN has been working along with the project teams. All the partner’s sub-projects, their activities and brief progress are summarized in Section 9 (Table 7).
Activities on ecosystem health management, coastal biodiversity conservation and monitoring of coastal fisheries dynamics, targeted under the first sub-IR1 (Improved science outputs for decision-making), have been continued with satisfactory progress despite some drawbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Five universities (BSMRAU, CVASU, NSTU, SAU and SUST) have played important roles in achieving the science outputs. In this quarter, BSMRAU and SAU conducted spatio-temporal analysis of water quality focusing on phytoplankton population in the South-western Rivers. To improve ecosystem health, collection of plastic and net materials from the Cox’s Bazar and Kuakata sea beaches have been continued and about 1,500 kg of such materials were removed from the beaches. In partnership with CVASU, the project, in its fish biodiversity activity through fish larvae assessment, have identified and documented and 22 families of fish larvae were.
ECOFISH II team, in collaboration with DoF and local administration (UNO) conducted patrolling activities in Galachipa Upazila, Patuakhali to reduce catfish juvenile catch during the peak season (March-April). As a part of the assessment for the MPA delineation in the Teknaf-St. Martin’s Island area, SUST conducted a survey among fishers in the Teknaf-St. Martin’s Island areas and recorded 7,831 fishers involved in fishing.
Real-time digital catch monitoring by 30 trained Citizen Scientists, revealed that the catch per unit effort (CPUE) was the highest in February (568 kg/boat/day) and the lowest in May (126 kg/boat/day). The highest total fish landing in four major fish landing centers in ZOR was found623 tons in January, while the lowest 263 tons in April.
Activities on strengthening of co-management institutions were continued in ZOR under the second Sub-IR1 (improved adaptive co-management and fisheries governance). 84 FCGs were formed in ZOR area in this quarter while the rest are in MPA. 293 FCG monthly training meetings were conducted with 7,970 participants (20% women).
The ZOR team conducted two consecutive capacity-building sessions on the CSG group operations and fund management with 42 members of the CSG executive committee. The MPA team facilitated 33 training and meeting events with Y1 FCGs members during the reporting period. Simultaneously, 48 Producer Group (PG) meetings were conducted in ZOR area with 930 participants of which all the participants were women. Alongside, 2 Union and Upazila level co-management meetings were conducted in MPA and MRE regions. One inception meeting on ''Role of Stakeholders in MPA management” was also conducted in the MPA region. IUCN's with close guidance from ECOFISH team is carrying out activities in Year-2 and focused on facilitating multi-stakeholders involvement in the implementation of for the Nijhum Dwip MPA Management Plan.
120 boat skippers were trained on biodiversity conservation and responsible fishing practice to improve fisheries governance. Total 30 new CFGs were trained and 20 other CFGs have been engaged in ZOR to work with DoF in the ban periods. The IUU data has been collected from 400 stakeholders and handed over to the consultant (Dr. Pramod Ganapathiraju, UBC, Canada), who is now in the process of analyzing, reviewing and writing the report.
USAID’s ECOFISH II enhances community resilience through improving the savings, livelihoods and coping strategies of host fishing communities in the ZOR and marginalized and extremely poor fisher folks in the MRE and the Nijhum Dwip MPA. The project introduced innovative AIGAs in the form of Blue Food production that includes seaweeds farming, green mussel farming and crab fattening. Hygienic dried fish production from pelagic is an important AIGA option for fishers’ women for improved income and nutrition. Approximately 10,940 kg of fresh fish were distributed for dried fish business to 447 HHs. To provide nutritious food support during the 65-day marine fishing ban period, 2,750 kg of dried fish and 250 kg fish powder were distributed to 3,000 HHs to compliment with government rice support.
As a part of women empowerment and continued effort on gender equality, women driven 34 CSGs having 936 members have saved BDT 1,162,500 up to June 2021. To improve the literacy and accounting capabilities, 18 new Business Literacy Schools (BLSs) continued their learning. Out of the 1,304 households who received AIGA input support, 470 were women. All the 500 dried fish Producer Groups are women who received 10,940 kg raw fish to start their business. Fishing families especially women and children were benefitted by getting the dried fish and fish powder during 65 days marine fishing ban period. Finally, the project ensured, inclusion of 689 women (23%) in the newly formed 100 FCGs.
MEL team has analyzed the basic households’ information of fishing villages in the ZOR and MPA and selected 21 villages (ZOR -16, MPA- 5) for interventions in Year 2. The tools, protocol and questionnaire for the assessment of economic benefit of 400 HHs have been prepared. The tools, protocol and questionnaire for the baseline assessment of the Haloishor Adorsho Matshya Gram in Shariatpur and the end-line survey protocols for the Model Resilient Fishing Villages (Balaramsura and Uttar Bogula) in Bhola and Chandpur, respectively have been prepared and the data will be collected in the next quarter.
As communication tools, the project produced 20,000 leaflets and 4,000 posters on juvenile hilsa (Jatka) conservation and distributed in 21 coastal districts for awareness building of the communities. The project produced 17,500 leaflets and 4,000 posters and distributed in 14 costal districts to build awareness on 65-day marine fishing ban. The communication team also produced 17 Facebook contents and attracted 14 media coverages by esteemed news media. An Op-ed was published and a webinar on marine biodiversity conservation and fishers’ livelihood improvement was organized.