Fisheries experts have recently emphasized to strengthen existing systems and to embrace new ideas while revising the Hilsa Fisheries Management Action Plan and for the overall Hilsa conservation.
The Hilsa Fisheries Management Action Plan of Bangladesh was initially formulated a decade back. Over the years, it has shown many commendable achievements, including, among others, establishing five fish sanctuaries in the lower Meghna River and effectively imposing fishing ban in the breeding season. The end of the current tenure of this management action plan in 2015 has created an opportunity to explore the key issues to be considered in its revision.
On 28 December 2015, academics, researchers, representatives of government and non-government organizations from all over the country came together at a consultation meeting in Dhaka. The experts emphasized strengthening the existing Hilsa fisheries management system by overcoming apparent limitations and challenges. They also opined to include new concepts and ideas to cope with changing demands on the ground.
It was noted that the existing Hilsa fisheries co-management system was not progressing to the direction initially envisaged. The reasons often quoted in national discourses were not conclusive enough, thus demand further analyses. The National Social Protection Strategy came up as one of the major tools to bring the Hilsa fishers under an effective co-management umbrella. The role of the Department of Fisheries was identified as a crucial one in that respect.
Protecting marine ecosystems has been duly emphasized in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Blue economy has been increasingly finding its position in national and global economic development discourses. In this context, Marine Protected Area has been identified as an important tool for conserving and sustainably managing marine resources, including Hilsa and other fisheries resources.
The experts stressed on trans-boundary initiatives with neighboring countries as a vital aspect of conserving fisheries resource of Bangladesh, especially the Hilsa.
The multi-stakeholder national consultation was a part of the project 'Policy, Power and Incentives to Strengthen Hilsa Conservation and Livelihood Options of the Poor' jointly implemented by IUCN and PPRC (Power and Participation Research Centre). This project is a part of the ECOFISHBD Programme of the WorldFish and is supported by the USAID and the Department of Fisheries of the Government of Bangladesh.