Case Study 1: The Village of Dorjipara in Tangail District
There were 13 participants in this discussion group. All were members of a traditional Hindu Rajbangshi fishing community.
Five of them were married women. The main message coming out of the discussion was: No water, no fish, no livelihood.
Discussions centred around 8 topics that were as follows:
On the Availability of Freshwater SIS in the Beels, Khals, Rivers and Flood Plain
General awareness and concern was expressed about the loss of traditional fish species. Concern was also expressed
about the loss of access rights and the changing socio-economic context. Several respondents highlighted the increasing
use of the current jal (monofilament net). The impact of this was seen as particularly negative during the monsoon when fish
are caught that are full of eggs. Although this is illegal, officials take bribes and turn a blind eye to such practices.
A major set back for this community is the implementation of the Compartmentalization Pilot Project (CPP, or FAP 20).
According to the respondents this has blocked the main rivers (Jamuna, Lohajang and others), and the sluice gates are
controlled by the influential people who cultivate rice inside the embankments. They prevent the gates being opened to allow
the fish to move in and out of the beels across the flood plain. As well as preventing the movement of fish to spawn, this
project has effectively deprived the community of their traditional rights of access to fish in the flood plain. In the past, they
harvested fish from a number of beels, including Gabadi beel, Singerkona beel, and Jugini beel. These are now leased to
influential people, and if the community try to lease them, they are threatened by the mastans.
With the CPP and the entry of influential people, there have also been changes in traditional practices. In the past, in
exchange of providing netting services, fishing groups were paid in both cash and kind. Today, they are only paid in cash:
they no longer receive "gifts" of fish for their services.
Respondents claimed that the entry of influential people has also increased pollution through increased use of inorganic
fertilizer. Also the soaking of jute was cited as causing the open waters to stagnate.
On small indigenous species considered depleted/endangered
Respondents were concerned about the increasing scarcity of several species in their catches. These include Baija, Mola,
Nandan, Pabda, and Along. Likewise Sharputi is now seldom found. Other species which they get in limited number are
Tengra, Shol, Taki, lcha.
On how SIS can become more available
Respondents proposed that the use of the current-jal should be banned; and that the Dhaleshwari river should be re-
excavated and re-routed. A deeper river would retain water all the year round, and make fish more available.
On the culture of Small Indigenous Fish Species
Generally respondents were not positive about the culture of SIS, on the basis that:
• it would not be profitable;
• SIS would give a lower yield compared to carps;
• the growth of SIS would be lower than carps; and o SIS would transmit diseases to the carps.
On their Dietary Preference for Fish
SIS (chotomach) are far more popular than carps (boromach). Although they have less taste than chotomach, boromach are
more popular in the market, where people buy them for 'social status'. The respondents preferred chotomach, describing it
as "nature's blessing", and highlighted that people can buy more fish with less money.
On the Breeding and LifecycIe of SIS
The following extracts are taken from the discussions:
"Meni breed and spawn in beels. As it is a slow and foolish fish, it gets entrapped easily.
The current-jal is the major reason for the depletion of Meni in Tangail area."
"Pabda live in the river Jamuna. These are very clever evasive fish. This species has disappeared since water entry into the
Jamuna has become restricted."
"Piali also live in the river Jamuna. This species also has disappeared for the same reasons as of Pabda."