(FAP 16, 1992; Hossain and Afroze, 1991; Hossain et al, 1994; and Felts et al, 1996). Declines in abundance and reduction
of access are therefore likely to have a negative impact on the food security and nutrition of poorer households. Particularly
vulnerable are children below five years and lactating mothers.
Shakuntala (1996) questioned the strategy of promoting fish as a protein source. Rather, she argued that it is more important
as a source of other essential nutrients and it should be promoted in this regard. Rice contributes 64% of the food that is
eaten by Bangladeshis, vegetables (30%), followed by fruit, and animal protein (mainly fish) (6%). In such a food system
dominated by rice, fish is the main source of nutrients.
Shakuntula emphasized the importance of SIS as a "whole food eaten whole", providing a balanced source of nutritional
requirements. This is in contrast to larger fish from aquaculture, which are not eaten whole and hence are less nutritious.
She highlighted the following particular nutritional advantages of SIS:
• SIS grow quickly and can be constantly harvested; carps take 4-6 months and may necessitate many more inputs;
• SIS can be dried more easily than large fish, and has a very high calcium content.
• SIS can be mixed easily with other food; larger fish may require special preparation and a different cooking pattern.
This means SIS can be eaten daily in low income households, whilst in such households larger fish are only eaten at
festivals and on special occasions. Thus the role of SIS with respect to meeting food and nutritional security is very different
from that of large fish.
Fish often provide the only source of animal protein for landless and small holding farmers. A household consumption study
(FAP 6, 1993) in north-east Bangladesh found that communities living near beels consumed 60% more fish than those
adjacent to rivers or from highland areas.
According to Villif and Jorgensen (1993), Puti (Puntius sp.) contains double the amount of iron compared to Silver Carp
(Hypophthalmicthys molitri) and Rohu (Labeo rohita). They also found that Mo]a (Amblypharyngodon mola) contains 3 times
more calcium and 50 times Vitamin-A than that of Silver Carp and Rohu.
It is therefore questionable whether pond aquaculture is an appropriate strategy to improve the nutrition of poorer people in
Bangladesh, who have neither access to ponds for subsistence catches, nor sufficient income to purchase fish from markets.
SIS and Socio-Economic issues As well as providing an important source of nutrition, fishing of SIS and other species is an
important source of income. It also provides the basis for a number of diverse livelihood options which landless people can
fall back on. This is particularly important when other Iivelihood options fail. FAP 16 (1995) studied the contribution of SIS to
household income directly and indirectly. On an average, landless households earned Tk. 484 from direct sales of fish, whilst
within the household the value of SIS consumed was Tk. 966. Thus the total income from SIS was Tk. 1,450.
A study by CARE INTERFISH revealed that fish price varies from Tk. 20-90 kg for small fish, and Tk. 60-120/kg for larger
In Bagerhat, catches from the beel fishery have declined, causing a reduction in fishing income. Fishers have blamed the
decline on blockages in the migration routes.