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Assessing Economy-wide Impacts of Micro Interventions in the Inland Fishery Sector: A Case Study of Community-Based Fishery Management (CBFM) in Bangladesh

The revised final report was completed in February 2006
and this summary was prepared by Asadul Islam
[Place your request to to get the pdf file with complete report.]


The fishery sector plays an important role in the Bangladesh economy. It is the main source of animal protein in Bangladesh. Annual per capita fish intake is 13.5 kg, and fish consumption accounts for about 6% of total protein intake and contributes about 64% of the animal protein throughout the country. A recent estimate suggests (Fishery Week, 2003) the per capita annual fish demand to be 18 kg, which amounts to an annual total fish demand of 2.4 million metric tons. Annual growth rate in fish production varied since 1995 -- the highest (8.15%) reached in 1996-97 and the lowest (5.70%) was reached in 2002-2003. Fisheries sector commands around 5.5 per cent of the country뭩 GDP.

The fisheries resources of Bangladesh have been divided broadly into inland and marine fisheries. The inland fisheries covers an area of about 4.3 million ha, while the area under marine fisheries is about 7 million ha the two sources producing a total of 0.95 million mt of fish annually. However, inland fishery remains the most important contributor to fish production in Bangladesh - totaling about 0.71 mt per year. Inland fish production constitutes about 72.1% of total fish production in the country and provides an income for some 1.5 million full-time and 11 million part-time fishers. It is suggested that the sector supports about 80% of rural households who catch fish for food. The inland fishery is again divided into open-water fisheries (capture fisheries) and closed-water fisheries (culture fisheries). The inland open water fisheries comprise rivers, floodplains, open beels, closed beels. These inland water bodies have been supporting rich and diversified fisheries and thus the inland fisheries of Bangladesh are critically important to its people for their food security and livelihood.

The evidence suggests that there is growing gap between total inland fish production and that of demand for fish. Data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS 2003) reveal that per capita fish consumption is declining in the country.  Furthermore, as mentioned before, the livelihood of millions of people depends, directly or indirectly, on the fish production. Therefore, development of inland fisheries sector is one of the top priorities of the Government. The draft Bangladesh Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) duly recognizes increasing production from inland waters as one of the vehicles to alleviate poverty in fishery-dependent communities. Nevertheless, one must admit that production in fish sector is plagued with lower productivity, various forms of inefficiencies and environmental non-sustainability. Bulk of the prevailing bottlenecks originates from lack of appropriate mode of resource management/ governance in the fishery sector. A major cause of lower performance in the fish sector stems from higher incidence of 뱓ragedy of commons. In many cases (rivers, haors, beels), exclusive private property rights cannot be enforced.  Due to structural bottlenecks and market failures, individual and exclusionary resource management system in fisheries sector result in lower output, higher environmental non-sustainability and lower contribution to poverty reduction.

Community Based Fisheries Management approaches has been practiced since 1995 to develop alternative fisheries management regime that will ensure equitable distribution and sustainable management of the fisheries resources. The WorldFish Center started to implement community based fisheries management through the CBFM-1 project in 1995. After five years of project implementation that piloted, tested and researched the potential of this new regime of management found clear impacts on production, habitat restoration, biodiversity, and on income of the poor fishers. Nevertheless, uncertainties regarding sustainability of the community organizations, its management and coordination across extensive floodplains and choosing the most appropriate management model led the second phase (CBFM-2) of the project that started functioning since September 2001. Following the success of the CBFM-1 and feeling the obvious necessity for sustainable management, the CBFM approaches have also been implemented through government and donor initiatives under different foreign assisted projects.

The existing empirical study concerning CBFM put emphasis on micro level impact, and little is known about the economy-wide impacts of such interventions. The focus within the former has been generally