Strengthening Hilsa conservation

Fishing in Chandpur, Bangladesh

Project title: Policy, power and incentives to strengthen Hilsa conservation and livelihood options for the poor  

Location: Primary and secondary study areas of the project entitled Enhanced Coastal Fisheries Bangladesh (ECOFISHBD), i.e. districts lying around and within the Padma-Meghna confluence. And Nijhum Dweep islands cluster. 


Phase 1: September 2015 – January 2016
Phase 2: February – September 2016

Project Background: The Government of Bangladesh, WorldFish and USAID have come together to support the country's coastal fishing communities and improve food security through a research-led hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha) fisheries management initiative. This Enhanced Coastal Fisheries (ECOFISHBD) Project seeks to improve the resilience of the hilsa fishery in the Padma-Meghna river ecosystem and the livelihoods that depend on it.

The Project ECOFISHBD aims to improve science-based fisheries management through decision-making; strengthen fisheries and resource users’ adaptive co-management; and enhance the resilience and livelihood options of small-scale fishing stakeholders and other resource users. It aims to enhance ecosystem resilience through the establishment of effective co-management in critical hilsa shade habitats. It also aims to improve household and community resilience by backing up the livelihoods and coping capacities of the marginalised poor, including women, and reducing their risk to ecosystem threats, including impacts of climate change. The ECOFISHBD project focuses on four Intermediate Results (IRs) to achieve the ultimate goal. These IRs are, 

  • IR1. Improved science-based fisheries management decision-making 
  • IR2. Strengthened fisheries adaptive co-management 
  • IR3. Enhanced socio-ecological & economic resilience of hilsa fisheries 
  • IR4. Strengthened policy, power, and incentives

Within this project, IUCN Bangladesh, as project leader, and Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC), as lead partner, envision a rigorous exploration of policy and power structure frontiers, introducing an ecosystem-based management approach, and building a common ground for both in-boundary and trans-boundary level management of the iconic hilsa fish.

Objectives of the project: The objective of the project is to identify a road map for strengthening power, policy and incentive structure and to ensure a functional integrated ecosystem-based MPA approach in the hilsa fisheries management of Bangladesh, focusing on the Nijhum Dweep islands. 

  • Identify policy options for developing sustainable power and incentive structure of hilsa fisheries management and to strengthen multi-stakeholder engagement in policy development process;
  • Identify policy options to strengthen methodical, transparent and ecosystem-based conservation;
  • Develop a shared vision towards both in-boundary and trans-boundary level management through multi-stakeholder dialogue processes.

Phase 1: Conceptualisation (September 2015-January 2016) - To map the scope of work based on the current status of the three defined subcomponents in order to formulate a detailed Engaging for IR4, for six outputs under three defined sub-components, the Consortium (IUCN and PPRC) has conducted multi-stakeholder analysis in Phase 1 to understand the on-ground realities, local perspectives, and issues or gaps that need to be addressed for a better hilsa fisheries management and conservation interventions in Bangladesh. Based on gaining responses, the consortium (IUCN and PPRC) looks forward to an in-depth work plan for Phase 2 and subsequent Phase 3.

Phase 2: Formulation (February-September 2016) - To facilitate and engage in developing a transparent and efficient power, policy and incentive structure, towards a sustainable ecosystem-based approach in both in-boundary and trans-boundary hilsa fisheries management.   

Phase 3: Validation (September 2016-October 2017) (expected) - To finalise acceptable power, policy and incentive options that validated through ground reality and ensured sustainable ecosystem based practices in both in-boundary and trans-boundary hilsa fisheries management.

Expected Outputs:

IUCN and PPRC have sketched out the activities for Phase 2 which will be concentrated on facilitating and engaging following contexts through subsequent validation in Phase 3.

  • Identifying gaps and introducing ecosystem based approach to establish participatory surveillance and monitoring system;
  • Bringing ecosystem based approach in hilsa management through delineation, establishment and co-management approach of marine protected area in the Bay of Bengal (focusing Nijhum Dweep islands cluster);
  • A shared vision towards trans-boundary level management through Trans-boundary Protocol Signing in hilsa management implementation of the protocols; 

Donor: WorldFish/USAID

Partner: Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC)

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