USAID_Enhanced Coastal Fisheries in Bangladesh phase 2 (EcoFish II)_Annual Report Y2_January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021

USAID_Enhanced Coastal Fisheries in Bangladesh phase 2 (EcoFish II)_Annual Report Y2_January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021
This annual report describes the accomplishments and achievements of ECOFISH II for the period of January-December 2021. Activities were implemented using key partnerships with the NGO Shushilan, Chattogram Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (CVASU) and the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), Noakhali Science and Technology University (NSTU) and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Sher-E-Bangla Agricultural (SAU) and a private partner Falcon International Ltd. Target activities on ecosystem health management, coastal biodiversity conservation and monitoring coastal fisheries dynamics were achieved under the first Sub-IR1. Five universities (BSMRAU, CVASU, NSTU, SAU and SUST) played important roles in achieving the science outputs. The BSMRAU measured nutrient concentrations, focusing on dissolved inorganic phosphate and dissolved inorganic nitrogen, and assessed seasonal variations in plankton composition in different locations of the Lower Meghna River and the Nijhum Dwip MPA. To improve the coastal ecosystem health, the ECOFISH II field teams collected 12.4 tons of plastic, net and other garbage materials from the sea beaches and other coastal shore areas engaging 100 local youths known as Blue Guard. In partnership with the CVASU, ECOFISH II assessed fish biodiversity and the spawning season by identifying fish larvae microscopically and using DNA barcoding technology. Through DNA barcoding, identification of 16 species were confirmed, of which three species were newly reported. The new MPA delineation activities in the area of the Naf River and St. Martin’s Island were conducted in partnership with the SUST. Based on socio-ecological assessment and stakeholder consultations, the project identified 2,992 km2 potential area of the Naf–Saint Martin Peninsula for MPA declaration with four restriction options (no-entry, no-take; entry, no-take; partial reserve and general reserve zones). Fish landing in quantity, species composition and wholesale price were regularly monitored in the major landing centers in ZOR and MRE focusing on the Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation’s (BFDC) centers, Cox’s Bazar. In ZOR, fish landing records of six LCFs indicated 40 predominant species in the commercial marine fishery, of which hilsa dominated the landings. Landing of the smaller adult hilsa (266 t), followed by premium size hilsa (>1 kg size) and 20 other important marine fish species. On-board real-time fish catch was monitored engaging 40 Citizen Scientists (CSs) of which 30 CSs have worked in ZOR covering CoxB Sadar, Ukhiya, Moheshkhali and Teknaf and the remaining 10 CSs collected data from the Nijhum Dwip MPA. Based on the CS’s data, catch per unit efforts (CPUEs) of 40 species/groups in major intervened areas were estimated, and the highest CPUE for all species was found in CXB Sadar, (1,837 kg/boat/day) and the lowest was found in Teknaf (163 kg/boat/day), and the average overall CPUE was 715 kg/boat/day. ECOFISH II and project partner Shushilan worked concurrently both in ZOR and MPA to establish adaptive co-management model. In the second year, 100 FCGs were formed in the ZOR and MPA areas while 96 came from the first year. In total, the team conducted 600 training sessions for 15,663 participants, 23% of whom were women, for 100 FCGs (12,798 in the ZOR and 2,865 in the MPA). About 414 FCG quarterly training meetings were conducted for Y1 beneficiaries that comprise a total of 10,389 participants, including 1,018 women (25%). Simultaneously, 77 PGs (producer groups) meetings were conducted in the ZOR area with 1,688 participants of which all the participants were women. ECOFISH II, however, this year moves farther towards landing center-based artisanal fisheries resource management in the ZOR area within the scope of co-management. In October 21, 2021, a large-scale consultation meeting with 40 artisanal fishers was held in Cox's Bazar. USAID’s ECOFISH II Activity: A nnual Report 2021 | 10 ECOFISH II is grounded on the EAFM approach. To follow the EAFM framework more explicitly, activities in Year-2 focused on facilitating multi-stakeholder processes for MPA management with a focus on updating the MSP. A preliminary list of 76 biophysical variables was developed. Then, 17 landing stations and 27 boats were surveyed. Among its activities, IUCN conducted a megafauna survey during the last quarter of 2021. Total 14 transects covering 330.88 km were surveyed where 69 individuals were sighted. Two locations (21.835082, 91.083193, and 21.852466, 91.078239) that had the highest number of sightings of Irrawaddy Dolphin were identified as hotspots or habitats for this species. Several MPA zoning consultation meetings were held at Char Montaz, Char Kukrimukri, Nijhum Dwip, and Monpura unions. To improve fisheries governance, ECOFISH II assessed the level of IUU fishing in the artisanal fisheries of the Bay of Bengal. Results suggest that every year, industrial trawlers catch 37,532 t of fish illegally in the waters below 40 meters’ depth and within marine protected areas. The unreported take-home catch of small-scale fishers is 376 kg per person per year, resulting in conservative estimates of 3,210 tons for all six coastal districts evaluated. Fisheries officers report 76% of the landed artisanal fish catches are legal, while 24% are illegally caught. Every year, about 29% of illegal fishing nets are seized. This illegal practice can be cut down with extensive capacity building and awareness programs such as boat skipper training. To do so, total 485 boat skippers were trained in ZOR, MPA, and MRE areas. Besides, CFG continues its work towards biodiversity conservation and fisheries resource protection. ECOFISH II team provided livelihood support to 3,000 HHs in 2021. The fishing households used these supports as startup capital to run their household-level enterprises. The support in turn will give benefits to the 18,000 household members (50% women). Around 48% of households received goats followed by the chickens & ducks (42%) where only 7% of households received support for doing small business. ECOFISH II supplied 5-6 varieties of winter vegetable seeds (Bottle Gourd, Beans, Red Spinach, Tomato, Chili, and Brinjal) to 2,472 targeted fishing households. Around 595 household members (40% women) in 22 batches received the capacity-building training organized at the fishing villages. ECOFISH-II formed 28 Community Savings Groups (CSGs) with 735 fisherwomen in ZOR and MPA in 2021. Fifty-two (52) CSGs saved US$ 25,754, including their own savings and matching funds. Around 15 CSG members received US$ 890 to begin cattle and poultry rearing, grocery, and dried fish businesses. With the assistance of CVASU and Falcon International Limited, ECOFISH II introduced community-led seaweed farming practice in the coastal waters in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh engaging coastal fishermen and women. In 2021, five farming sites were selected for seaweed farming in Cox’s Bazar. Gracilaria (red seaweed) was considered for seaweed farming with four farming systems. The project selected 200 men and women and provided training in seaweed cultivation techniques, harvesting, processing, and marketing. A total of 9350 kg (wet weight) of seaweed was collected till the end of December. Currently, 102 fisher's households are actively engaged in green mussel farming and monitoring the culture systems. CVASU and Falcon International Limited organized training programs in three farming sites prior to establishing the three culture systems. Green mussel harvesting has not yet been completed from any site because the green mussels have not yet reached harvesting size. ECOFISH II introduced safe and hygienic dried small pelagic fish production technology to the underprivileged fishers’ women to ensure women empowerment, income, food and nutrition security. So far, 1,014 fishers’ women trained and supported hygienic dried fish production using marine pelagic small fishes in Cox’s Bazar. In two cycles, the project delivered 23,546 kg raw fish to 975 women producers. The women artisans produced 7,147 kg of dried fish, of which 5,168 kg was sold in local markets. After the production season concludes, the economic analysis will be completed. In addition, ECOFISH II provided 2,750 kg dried fish and 250 kg fish powder among 3,000 fishing households as supplementary nutritional food aid to the fishing communities to complement the government’s rice support during the 65-day marine fishing ban. USAID’s ECOFISH II Activity: A nnual Report 2021 | 11 The project’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) team generated community-level information covering all the villages where the project is working in and integrated the information into the GIS map and Google Earth maps. The MEL team conducted periodic assessments to assess project performance against six standard USAID indicators and seven custom indicators. In February 2021, ECOFISH II assisted USAID in conducting a Data Quality Assessment (DQA). A three-person USAID team visited Cox's Bazar to assess the data quality and performance of the ECOFISH activities in the field level. As communication outcomes, the project produced 68,000 leaflets and 274,000 posters on Jatka conservation, a 65-day marine fishing ban, a 22-day brood hilsa fishing ban, biodiversity conservation and MPA management, catfish conservation, and a one-pager on dried fish, sea weed, and green mussel. The project organized a media visit, received 98 media coverages, published 13 op-eds in leading Bangladeshi media, organized live TV talk show on: "Hilsa and Marine Fisheries & Development: Potentials & Challenges” & "Impacts of 65 days fishing ban on marine biodiversity and fisheries conservation," organized virtual round table discussion program titled "Role of Hilsa in Blue Economy & Fishers' Livelihoods," and organized a webinar. In addition, 41 pieces of social media contents were created and published on various aspects of key interventions and thematic issues.
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