A CASE STUDY ON PARTICIPATORY MANAGEMENT OF FISHPASS IN
Muhammed A. Bhuiyan, Professor, Dept of Water Resources Engg, BUET, Dhaka
1000, e-mail: email@example.com
Robin K. Biswas, Graduate Student, Dept of Water Resources Engg, BUET, Dhaka
Sariakandi Fishpass is the largest Fishpass in Bangladesh connecting
embanked Jamuna and Bangali Rivers to their floodplains. This structure initiates
movement of adult fishes, juveniles, fingerlings, fish-eggs and other aquatics to
floodplains at the beginning of monsoon. It has three-vents with sixteen-pools
(4.2m×4.8m having 0.7m opening) in each vent. This paper evaluates impacts of the
Fishpass on fish production, fish-diversity and socio-economic conditions of the
region. A questionnaire survey has been conducted to collect information on local
stakeholders. The survey output is used to develop a participatory management
framework for operation and management of the Fishpass. In this framework,
representation of local stakeholders has been gathered as Fisheries Management
Group (FMG). An apex body called Fishpass Management Committee (FPMC) has
been proposed comprising representatives from FMGs. There is also a Performance
Monitoring and Technical Advisory Committee (PMTAC) of officials from different
government agencies, local government institute (LGI), NGO and FPMC to
coordinate technical assistance and interagency cooperation. Mutual accountability
among these groups and committees has been ensured through defined rules and
regulations. It is found that sedimentation immediately after monsoon cut-offs the flow
through Fishpass. While impacts are found positive, it shows participatory
management is crucial for maintaining the Fishpass and equitable distribution of
Key words: Shanon Diversity Index, Local stakeholders, Participatory management,
Mutual accountability, Fishpass.
Water resources development in Bangladesh has reached a stage where it
has to advance progressively from single purpose scheme to more complex
interrelated system by synchronizing agriculture, fishery, environment and others.
Food chain and life cycle of natural fish and other aquatic species have become
vulnerable due to interruption of the normal sequence of flooding in floodplains
(NWMP 2001). Inundation of the floodplain provides the spawning ground, nursery
area and major feeding opportunity for a wide range of fish species (Minkin 1989, Ali
1991). The impacts on natural fish migration, reproduction and ecological balance for
flood control measures appeared as a major concern to the perpetual survival of
floodplain fishes in many parts of Bangladesh (FAP-6 1994 and 1998; FAP-17 1994).
The task of minimizing impacts on the natural fishes is very complex. It requires close
cooperation of planners, biologists, engineers and stakeholders. In National Fisheries
Policy (NFPo 1998) and National Environment Policy (NEPo 1992), emphasis has
been given on the protection of fish diversity. It has also been stressed in National
Water Policy (NWPo 1999) that measures should be taken to minimize the disruption
to natural aquatic environment and water channels. The concept of fishpass and fish-
friendly structure has been introduced in Bangladesh as a remedy to these
overstretched problems. Until recently no organized attempt was made to improve
fish habitat, or sound management involving affected communities (Rahman et al.
2002). In NWPo (1999) emphasis has been made to bring institutional changes that
will help to decentralize the management of water resources projects and enhance
the role of local people in efficient and socially acceptable manner so as to promote
public and private responsibilities.
2. FISHPASS AREA
The Sariakandi Fishpass is the largest and most recent fishpass constructed
and owned by Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB). This is a vertical slot
type fishpass structure. It has three vents with 16 pools in each vent. It maintains
connection between Jamuna (Brahmaputra) River and Bangali River. It is located at
Debdanga of Kutubpur Union, Sariakandi Upazila, Bogra. The mighty Jamuna is on
the east and the Bangali is on the west. The fishpass is situated between Sariakandi
and Mathurapara Hard Points. There are 12 villages around the fishpass directly
linked with its impact. The socio-economic condition of this area largely depends on
the Jamuna and Bangali river system. The construction of Brahmaputra Right
Embankment (BRE) in the late sixties has affected the flooding pattern and fish
production in the Bangali River. An immediate impact on livelihood was evident.
Subsequently this fishpass has come out as a blessing in the area. BWDB is now
operating and managing the fishpass through a gate operator. Fourth Fisheries
Project of Department of Fisheries (DoF) is now managing the fisheries of Bangali
River by declaring few locations as sanctuaries using local people and a NGO called
TMSS. However the local stakeholders are not consulted for the operation and
managing of the fishpass.
3. DATA COLLECTION
Two categories of data like stakeholders’ perception to fisheries management
and fish catches in the area have been collected for this study. Stakeholders’
perception data were collected through field visit and questionnaire survey.
Questionnaire survey was conducted among the N=42 households of the study area.
To substantiate questionnaire findings, three focus group discussions (FGDs) were
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carried out at three key locations of the study area. Interviews were held for
Department of Fisheries (DoF), Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE),
Department of Cooperatives (DoC), TMSS and BWDB local officials. The fish catch
data were collected from TMSS office (partner NGO of Fourth Fisheries Project of
DoF). Fish catch data includes information like number of fisherman, types of gears,
fish catches, etc.
A fishing unit is defined by a fisher (or group of fishers in the case of gears
such as the commercial seine nets) with a given type of gear and eventually the
fishing craft used. One unit effort is defined by the fact that a given fishing unit has
fished during the past 24 hours. The estimated total effort for each group of fishing
unit is as follows:
Total effort = (N fishing units) × (days in the month) × CA
where, CA is the Activity Coefficient to define the proportion of fishing units that are
expected to fish during the given days. The total number of fishing units (N) is known
from regular standardized counting of the number of fishermen and the number of
gears used at different sanctuaries. The relationship, which is used to estimate the
total catch, is therefore:
Total catch = (fish catch per unit effort) × (total effort).
4. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Fishpass and Impact
Fish production: There was decline of fish production in Bangali River
immediately after the construction of Brahamputra Right Embankment (BRE) Project.
The fishpass starts operation in April 2001. Afterward, a significant positive impact on
fish production has been observed in the Bangali River. According to TMSS data the
total catch has increased about six times compared to the pre-fishpass period. Many
rare species were back in the area after construction of the fishpass.
The Shannon index ( ) is used as a measure of fish diversity. The formula for this
index is: H
= is the proportional abundance of the ith fish species, is the number
of ith fish species, N is the sample size of the total catch.
Table 1 shows the diversity index is increasing each year between 2001 and
2004. This indicates the proportionality of abundance of fishes. Number of fish
species has also increased in the Bangali River. During focus group discussion and
questionnaire survey it has been expressed by the locals that the production of
threatened fish species has increased and the rare fish species is found more
frequently in the Bangali River.
Table 1: Fish species and diversity indices of the Bangali River
2001 2002 2003 2004
Number of species 37 41 45 56
H′ 1.51 2.15 2.5 2.9
Socio-economic: One of the objectives of construction of Sariakandi Fishpass
is to improve the livelihood of local fishermen. It has been observed from
questionnaire survey that the fish business and subsequently family income and fish
consumption have increased.
Problems Related to Existing Management Practice
Lack of co-ordination: The present O&M procedure is not demand driven.
Local beneficiaries have no control on the fishpass. There is hardly any participation
of other pertinent agencies like DoF and DAE. Table 2 shows that 90% (N=38) of the
total respondents are aware that BWDB is responsible for the management of the
structure. However a big part of them (N=32) are not satisfied with the existing
management system. They cited various problems like improper operation of gate,
inadequate enforcement of laws related to catch juveniles during migration season,
non-participation of local beneficiaries, etc are the major limitations for proper
management of the fishpass in the area.
Inadequate law enforcement: Implementation of rules and regulations to
restrict activities damaging fish migration is essential for fruitful outcome. Seventy
four percent (N=31) respondents believe that enforcement of law is inadequate. As
such effective enforcement of law could improve the scenario is mentioned by 70% of
the total respondents. Unfortunately, such activities are absent at the fishpass site
and as a consequence it has become a fish-trap.
Non-participatory decision making: There is no participation of beneficiaries
in decision-making. Decision making is overwhelmingly done by implementing agency
(BWDB). There is also no grass-root level organization to oversee the interest of the
poor traditional fishermen. Table 2 illustrates that 90% (N=38) of the total
respondents want to take part in the management process for better operation of gate
and enhance fish production in general. However, a lack of initiative on the part of
local beneficiaries to be involved in the mainstream management of the structure is
Table 2: Questionnaire survey (N=42) on existing management and improvement
Beneficiaries awareness about ownership of the structure & management
BWDB 38 90%
No idea 4 10%
Satisfaction level on existing management by BWDB
Satisfied 10 24%
Dissatisfied 32 76%
Gates not properly operated during breeding season 31 74%
Non involvement of beneficiaries 21 50%
Inadequate enforcement of laws 31 74%
Difficulties in fish and fish fry passes 4 10%
Improvement of present management
Involvement of beneficiary in gate operation 35 83%
Operation of gate in proper time 32 76%
Enforcement of rules & regulation to stop illegal juvenile catch 29 70%
Involvement of other related departments 20 48%
Involvement of representative from elite people 3 7%
No/no idea 5 12%
Willingness to participate in fishpass management committee
Pessimistic 4 10%
Optimistic 38 90%
Gate operation in proper time 29 76%
Enhancement of fish production in the Bangali River 12 32%
Better management 8 21%
Stakeholders Perception Regarding Management Organization
Management organization: All the respondents who are aware of the BWDB
management responsibilities (N=38) as shown in Table 3, suggest that there should
be Fisheries Management Group (FMG) at each villages as a lowest level
management organization. Representatives from each of the FMGs will form one
Fishpass Management Committee (FPMC) to coordinate and decide the local
requirements. This will be the apex body of the local representatives for proper
management of the fishpass structure in the whole system. For monitoring, technical
and other assistances there should be a Performance Monitoring and Technical
Advisory Committee (PMTAC), consisting of BWDB, DoF, DAE, DoC, Local
Government Institution (LGI), along with selective representatives from FPMC of the
local beneficiaries. Gate operation will be decided by FPMC through their nominated
Gate Operator on requirement basis.
Membership of FMG and FPMC: Representation of all stakeholders is the
key factor for better management. Fishermen are the prime beneficiaries of the
fishpass. All the respondents (N=38) who are aware of the BWDB responsibilities
favored fisherman for maximum membership in the FMG. A large number of
respondents opined that members and chairman of LGI should also be in the FMG.
Membership of other professionals is also suggested as shown in Table 3. This will
give the local people a united decisive voice in the management process. The local
beneficiaries will feel that they are the owner of the structure and the system.
Participation of organizations in PMTAC: Fishpass O&M and management
will require close cooperation of BWDB, DoF, DoC, DAE, LGI, NGO and FPMC.
Involvement of BWDB and other relevant agencies is indispensable for better
management of the structure and capacity building of the local stakeholders. This
idea has been reflected in the opinion of the local beneficiaries (Table 3). According
to the view of the local beneficiaries 90% (N=38) believe that DoF and LGI should be
the members of the PMTAC along with BWDB. DoF should be responsive for the
technical know-how of the fisheries. LGI should help implementing rules and
regulations against illegal fish catching. Implementing agency BWDB should be
responsible for technical assistance and major O&M work. FPMC members should be
included in PMTAC for transfer of information related to problems and subsequently
technical knowledge to the local communities.
Table 3: Perception of local stakeholders on fishpass management structure
Management structure Frequenc
Tier of fishpass management
FMG at the bottom level 38 90%
FPMC at the apex level 38 90%
PMTAC for consultation and interagency
coordination 36 86%
Eligibility of membership for FMG and FPMC
Fisherman 38 90%
Union Parishad chairman 31 74%
Union Parishad member 29 69%
Woman 27 66%
Farmer 23 57%
Teacher 17 40%
Elites 6 16%
Businessman 6 16%
Landless 3 7%
Member organizations for PMTAC formation
BWDB 38 90% LGI 38 90%
DoF 38 90%
DoC 30 71%
DAE 17 40%
FPMC 12 29%
NGO 8 19%
Process of selecting members in FMG and FPMC
Election 1 2%
Selection of members: It is crucial to find out the process of selecting
members for any management group. Existence of democratic atmosphere is the key
factor for the success of any water resources project. As such local stakeholders
perceived (N=33, Table 3) that focal group discussion (FGD) should be the method
used for selecting members in the FMGs and FPMC. They viewed election (secret
ballot) should not be used at this preliminary stage.
Activities to be Performed
Activities of FMG and FPMC: Activities of FMGs and FPMC are shown in
Table 4. Timely gate operation and stopping illegal fishing are the foremost duties of
these organizations (N=38). According to the perception of 90% respondents, income
generation should be another major activity (86%) to develop them as a self-
sustained organization. Other tasks include minor O&M work (86%), maintain liaison
(50%) with the PMTAC in order to overcome any technical problems, capacity
building, etc. They must have regular meetings to discuss problems among
Services from PMTAC: The expected services from PMTAC according to the
perception of the local beneficiaries are shown in Table 4. PMTAC will assist the local
stakeholders by providing technical support and support to implement rules and
regulations. They must give them training to build up their capacity and better
understanding of management process. It will help the root level organization FMG to
involve actively in the management process. The local beneficiaries also expect
financial support from the PMTAC (N=37).
Table 4 Delineation of committee activities
Activities Frequency Percentage
Activities of the FMG and FPMC
Gate operation 38 90%
Income generating activity 36 86%
Liaison with the PMTAC 21 50%
Meeting 29 69%
Prevent illegal fishing 38 90%
Minor O&M activity 36 86%
Raising fund for minor O&M 12 29%
Services of the PMTAC
Technical support 38 90%
rules & re
ulations 38 90%
ort 37 88%
5. PROPOSED PARTICIPATORY MANAGEMENT MODEL
The tier and composition of local beneficiaries’ representation in the
management model are shown in Figure 1. The bottom level is termed as FMG and
the apex level is termed as FPMC. There will be 12 FMGs at 12 villages around the
fish pass where the fishpass has direct impact. All the inhabitants of these villages
will be the general member of respective FMG. The executive committee (EC) should
be consisted of 12 members from among the general members of the particular FMG.
EC must have at least 3 members from women, 1 member from vulnerable social
group, and 1 member from farmer community. The remaining 7 members are from
fishers. President and General Secretary must be from fisher community through
selection/election by a majority vote of the members of the FMG. Treasurer should be
open to all social groups. All the executive members of the FMG will be the general
members of the FPMC. The EC of FPMC should also be consisted of 12 members
with President and General Secretary from fishers’ community through
selection/election by the general members of the FPMC. There is no position for
Treasurer in FPMC. FPMC is solely responsible for coordination of plan and
decisions of the individual FMGs with PMTAC. Representatives of BWDB, DoF, DoC,
DAE, LGI, NGO and FPMC in the PMTAC will monitor the activities of FMGs and
FMPC and will provide technical assistance to the general members and the
community as a whole.
The organizational linkages in which the local stakeholders will participate for
fishpass management are shown in Figure 2. It shows the mutual linkages of FMG
and FPMC with others. The FMG/FPMC representing local stakeholders will be the
driving force of the management process. The implementing agency along with other
agencies in the PMTAC will undertake necessary steps for the formation of local
stakeholder groups (FMGs and FMPC) with the assistance of other community
organizations (like NGOs) and provide training and other technical assistances to the
FMG for their involvement in the management. The PMTAC will also take initiative to
ensure necessary coordination and cooperation between FMGs and FPMC.
Figure 1 Management model and its composition
Figure 2 Organizational linkages for the fishpass management model
Rules and Regulations for Fisheries Management Group (FMG), Fishpass
Management Committee (FPMC) and Performance Monitoring and Technical
Advisory Committee (PMTAC)
The FMG, FPMC and PMTAC should follow the guidelines as outlined below:
1. All the men and women of a village near the Fishpass will be the general
members of the FMG. All the executive members (ECs) of FMG will be the
general members of the FPMC. Selection of these EC members could be
through broad consensus among the general members. In situations with a
lack of consensus, the EC members should be elected through a ballot
2. It is stated that there are 7 members would be from fishers’ community.
Fishers are anyone fishing regularly on a subsistence or professional basis.
Membership of a traditional fisher group does not automatically qualify
someone as a fisher.
3. Members of the EC should be changed in every 2 years. If any EC member
involves in any unlawful activities will be eliminated from the EC. New member
will be selected/elected in the same way for the rest of the period of the EC.
4. Members of FPMC and FMGs should meet every month on a particular date
decided by them. Minutes of the meeting should be recorded properly. FMG
must submit the minutes to PMTAC and FPMC. FPMC must submit their
minutes to PMTAC. FPMC will hold an annual general meeting to inform the
FMGs about the overall plan and activities for fund generation and minor O&M
requirements. Each decision in FPMC and PMTAC must be properly
transmitted to each FMGs.
5. FMG will submit their monthly fish catch record to FPMC and PMTAC for
6. The FMG will be responsible for preventing illegal catch of fish-egg and
fingerlings inside the structure, u/s and d/s and adjacent to the floodplain of
fishpass and their respective area during breeding season. FMG should take
initial initiative to assess their need. The PMTAC must provide them necessary
supports on priority basis in this regard as and when required. If it is
established that any member is involved in illegal fishing should be fined. The
amount should be decided by the EC of the FMG. He cannot be member of EC
of any level and will lose his membership forever.
7. Each FMG will collect contribution on a regular-basis (yearly) from individual
households. The contribution amount will be decided on the number of
members in each subsistence or professional fishing unit.
8. FMG will be responsible to utilize the minor O&M fund. Gradually they will take
responsibility of medium-scale O&M work. Fund that is generated by
contribution will be utilized to help the fishing community for development as
well. They will work together to help the NGO to identify the community whom
credit support is required. They must help individual fishing unit for income
9. FMG will be responsible for channel maintenance, such as, removal of
deposited silt in the u/s and d/s of the fishpass, sanctuary management, etc.
10. FPMC will be responsible to appoint gate operator. They must give necessary
direction and decision regarding timely gate operation. PMTAC must help the
FPMC to prepare a schedule for gate operation. Before operate the gate they
must consult FMGs to avoid any conflict. FMGs will be responsible to pay the
11. FMGs should get training through PMTAC for utilization of fund and locally
available resources. PMTAC should also provide necessary training on
management of fishpass, O&M work, breeding season of fishes, existing rules
and regulations regarding size and season of fishing, etc.
12. FPMC will work as internal monitoring organization. They will look into the
affairs of the FMGs and activities of physical, financial, environmental impact
of the project, etc. They should give their feed back to the PMTAC. PMTAC
and DoC will also monitor the works of FMGs and FPMC. They will work as
external monitoring organization. A well-defined reporting chain of system
should be established so that any malfunctioning may be sorted for correction
13. FPMC will elaborate a Fisheries Management Plan for the entire area. This
plan should be executed by individual FMGs. The Plan must enhance the
access of all the members impartially.
14. FMG must be registered according to the rules and regulations of the DoC.
Each FMG will open a joint bank account operated by President and
Treasurer. Funds raised by the FMGs should be deposited in the bank.
Bookkeeping system should be transparent and the account book should be
open for inspection by the PMTAC, FPMC and DoC.
The proposed management model will provide detailed operational framework
for stakeholders’ participation and capacity building in fishpass management. It will
give the local stakeholders a significant voice at all stages of management system.
Mutual accountability has been anticipated among each organization. The model will
help to develop capacity of the local stakeholders in participatory management. It will
also gradually establish ownership of the local stakeholders and will help to achieve
the objectives of the integrated water resources management (IWRM).
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