Conclusions and Recommendations
The freshwater fish of Bangladesh represent an invaluable renewable natural resource, of highly significant
socioeconomic potential. They constitute a precious national heritage of uniquely diverse species assemblage. The
species groups which many people now widely refer to as Small Indigenous Species (SIS) comprise an important sub-
set of this fauna. However, despite their perceived importance there is little documented information about their relative
importance, life cycle, or even of which species actually belong to this category.
The terminology "small indigenous species" can be misleading. Many species which are clearly not small are often
lumped together as SIS. In addition, SIS is often used synonymously with the popular term chotomach. This is also not
satisfactory, as this popular term is often used to refer to the species which are harvested when small (like the fingerling
Recommendation 1: A classification system needs to be established for SIS, and an inventory of species which are
classified as SIS drawn up.
of major carps), or exotic species (like Tilapia and Chinese carps).
SIS, together with many other fresh water fish, make a vital contribution to the livelihood, income and nutrition of rural
Bangladesh. Yet very little is known about the contribution that these different fish species make, and how this can be
There is a rich store of traditional and local knowledge on the freshwater fish, including SIS. But with the introduction of
modern production systems, changes in social relations, and the disappearance of many species, this store of
knowledge is declining.
Recommendation 2: The contribution of SIS to livelihoods, income and nutrition in rural Bangladesh needs to be
documented. This should include the documentation of traditional and local knowledge as well as management and
conservation practices of SIS and other freshwater fishes.
There is a great deal of indicative, anecdotal and circumstantial evidence which points to the decline of Bangladesh's
freshwater fauna, including SIS. This preliminary study has identified the following causes:
• destruction of the aquatic environment through flood control, drainage and irrigation projects;
• siltation of the river systems, canals and beels;
• pollution of the aquatic environment by agrochemicals, industrial wastes, domestic sewage and other wastes;
• destruction of the fish stocks through increasing fishing pressure, and through the use of non-selective and
environmentally damaging fishing techniques;
• the introduction of exotic species for aquaculture, which compete with and prey on the indigenous species.
The introduction of such species also carries the danger of introducing new diseases (like EUS) to which the
indigenous species have no resistance.