|dc.description.abstract||The 3rd quarterly progress report of Year 2 describes the accomplishments and achievements of ECOFISH II from July to September 2021 in all the ToOs.
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. Five universities (BSMRAU, CVASU, NSTU, SAU and SUST) have played important roles in achieving the science outputs. In this quarter, BSMRAU analyzed phytoplankton alpha diversity indices and used to quantify species diversity of the habitat, which indicated the MPA as the highly diversified habitat. To improve ecosystem health, collection of plastic and net materials from the Cox’s Bazar and Kuakata sea beaches have been continued and about 3,000 kg of such materials were removed from the beaches covering about 132 sq. km. In partnership with SUST, a simulation model was analyzed to visualize the role of MPA on species biodiversity, and in the tropical marine ecosystem of the northern Bay of Bengal. The model indicated that the controlled fishing area like MPA yields the higher species biomass than that of from the unrestricted fishing areas.
ECOFISH II team efforts on river catfish juvenile conservation in the Bishkhali region were continued. The Barguna team identified about 2 km long stretch of the river as an important Pangas breeding ground at the Kalmegha block area of the Bishkhali River in Patharghata, Barguna.
In the major intervened areas, Cox’s Bazar region, 38 species/groups were harvested and contributed significantly to the total landing. All species CPUE was the highest in CXB Sadar (1,730 kg/boat/day), followed by Moheshkhali (953 kg/boat/day), and the lowest was found in Teknaf (149 kg/boat/day). Among the landed species/groups, Hilsa formed the most visible dominant species in all sites except in Teknaf region. Landing of the premium size Hilsa (>1 kg - 1.5 kg size) was the highest (>250 t), and 20 other species of marine fish had relatively higher contribution.
Activities on strengthening of co-management institutions were continued in ZOR under the second Sub-IR1 (improved adaptive co-management and fisheries governance). Monthly training meetings of 307 Fisheries Conservation Groups (FCGs) were conducted with 7,693 participants with 1,961 women (25%), including newly formed 100 FCGs in 2021. Simultaneously, 77 Producer Groups (PGs) meetings including 1,688 fishers’ women participants. Awareness programs with co-management committees were conducted in Patuakhali to conserve Brood Hilsa during the Hilsa fishing ban period (4 to 25 October 2021). MPA team organized a consultation meeting of the Union Co-Management body at Char Kukri Mukri, Bhola and formed a five-member Ad-hoc committee for supporting the formation of next level co-management committee.
Activities to strengthening ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) is continued with the assistance of IUCN through data collection on socio-economic (six FGDs and 21 KIIs) and bio-physical variables (boat survey), conduction of MPA zoning consultation meeting at the Nijhum Dwip MPA. Researchers from SUST used an Allometric Trophic Network (ATN) model to examine how fishing restrictions influenced species biodiversity around waterbodies of the St. Martin's Island.
For improved fisheries governance, ECOFISH II surveyed and assessed the level of IUU fishing in the artisanal fisheries of the Bay of Bengal from the six coastal districts. The results suggest that the use of illegal fishing nets is widespread. Industrial trawlers annually caught 37,532 t of marine fish illegally from artisanal water while unreported take home catches were around 3,210 t. According to fisheries officers, 24% of the landed artisanal fish catches are illegal and about 29% of illegal fishing nets are seized during enforcement each year. MPA team conducted a boat census and as of 30 September 2021, the team collected data on 10,781 boats. Total 90 boat skippers were trained in both ZOR (CXB Sadar and Moheshkhali) and MRE (Taltoli) areas on ‘Biodiversity conservation and responsible fishing’ during the reporting quarter.
As part of livelihood support activity, ECOFISH II team selected 3,000 HHs in 2021 to provided supports for their livelihood improvement. During this quarter, the project organized 7 trainings on goat husbandry and poultry rearing for improvement of technological skills of the beneficiaries. Around 200 HH members (40% women) received the capacity-building training organized at the fishing villages. All 3,000 HHs in 21 fishing communities received livelihood supports as productive assets and start utilizing these supports as startup capital to run their household-level enterprises.
In the reporting quarter, the project formed 17 new fishers’ women Community Savings Groups (CSGs) in ZOR and MPA. Until September 2021, 1,496 CSG members from 51 CSGs saved BDT 1,476,400 (USD 17,260) in their respective bank accounts. In addition to regular CSG activities, Business Literacy Schools (BLSs) activities of learning sessions were continued in 20 BLSs to capacitate them to read and run a small business.
Four farming sites were selected for seaweed farming in Cox’s Bazar region. The project selected 200 men and women and provided training and input supports for installing the culture systems. The beneficiaries started seaweed farming in three sites along the coastal waters in Cox’s Bazar. 102 fisher's HHs are working on green mussel farming in three farming sites and looking after three culture systems.
ECOFISH II introduced safe and hygienic pelagic small dried fish production technology to the underprivileged fishers’ women to ensure women empowerment, income, food and nutrition security. So far, ECOFISH II trained 1,014 fishers’ women on hygienic dried fish production using marine pelagic small fishes. In 2021, the project selected 514 women in five Upazila of Cox’s Bazar and one Upazila of Charfasson for producing and marketing safe and hygienic dried fish. The project provided training to the women producers and helped them prepare drying yard for the full production season (October to March). ECOFISH II through a partnership with Noakhali Science and Technology University (NSTU) prepared a composite fish powder using three nutrient-rich pelagic small fish (40% anchovy, 30% sardine, and 30% Faisa) which could be used to enrich the complementary diet for the children with essential nutrients. During this quarter, NSTU started a Randomized Control Trial (RCT) study to evaluate the efficacy of the prepared composite fish powder in an ECOFISH II intervened fishing village.
On the gender front, the project organized a two-day gender sensitization workshop on 4-5 August 2021 to improve the knowledge and capacity of project staffs on gender issues and gender mainstreaming in ECOFISH II Activity. Research on impacts of ECOFISH formed previous CSGs has been started to assess the contribution to women empowerment, livelihood improvements, and social wellbeing. In the reporting quarter, 1,961 women participated in 307 FCG training meetings. ECOFISH II recruited 38 women ‘Blue Guards’ representing 37% women for ecosystem health improvement. Around 96 and 35 women are also respectively involved in nature-based livelihood initiatives like seaweed and green mussel farming in the marine ecosystem.
MEL team completed the assessments on the economic benefits gained from the year-1 interventions. In order to do that, the team completed data collection from 465 fishing households following a sampling framework. The findings with the indicator repot will be submitted to USAID. During this quarter, the team updated the automated offline-online database system and it is now operational to produce various kinds of reports on project demand.
As communication outcomes, the project produced 16,800 leaflets and 4,000 posters on various aspects of biodiversity conservation in MPA and distributed in MPA areas. The team also produced 5,000 leaflets on seaweeds and 5,000 on green mussel farming and distributed in ECOFISH II intervention sites. Developed 15 Facebook contents on various aspects of key interventions & thematic issues, achieved 34 media coverages. Organized 2 talk shows on a leading TV channels and published an Op-ed in national English dailies featuring various aspects of biodiversity conservation.