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10. Summary and conclusions

10.1 The resource and its distribution

1. Small water bodies (SWBs) consist of a loosely defined set of natural and man-made water bodies such as reservoirs, lakes, ponds, floodplains and rivers. Small man-made reservoirs are the chief constituent of SWBs in most of the countries.

2. SWBs constitute an important inland fishery resource in many developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Their fisheries development activities through mass participation offer immense scope for improvement of the quality of life and food security among the rural population.

3. Data on inventory and fish yield from SWBs are inadequate in most of the countries.

4. India has the widest spectrum of natural and artificial water bodies comprising rivers, reservoirs, floodplain lakes, estuaries ponds etc. While Mexico has a large number of natural lakes, Brazil has extensive areas under rivers, wetlands and ponds. SWBs in the smaller countries such as Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and Cuba consist exclusively of reservoirs.

5. Of the countries in this study, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Thailand, and Cuba have greater proportions of areas under reservoirs in relation to their total geographical areas (230, 139, 137 and 133 ha/100 km2 respectively).

6. Sri Lanka and Cuba have achieved high yield rates from small reservoirs (244 and 125 kg/ha respectively) in relation to the other countries under review.

10.2 Norms of exploitation

7. As opposed to privately owned intensive aquaculture, the SWBs in most of the countries are public water bodies, from which poor fishers eke out a living. Their fishing norms are more in accord with the traditional practice of sharing nature's wealth among many, especially in the case of local communities.

8. Traditionally, small water bodies have been used as common property resources (CPRs), allowing unrestricted access to members of the surrounding communities. These traditional, community-managed SWBs are still common in Zimbabwe, northeastern Thailand, northeastern Brazil and Mexico. Although open access to water bodies is not conducive to sustainable management, mass participation can still be achieved through participatory management. This type of management may subserve the twin objectives of conservation and sustainable use of resources.

9. A majority of the reservoirs in Zimbabwe are privately owned and managed while those of Cuba are managed directly by the state. In all the other countries, reservoirs are generally managed as a common property resource with varying exploitation norms.

10. The exploitation systems followed in the reservoirs are: state controlled management; licensing; crop sharing; and, leasing by auctioning.

11. The state controlled fishery management of Cuba has a homogenous exploitation system throughout the country. All the fishing tools, equipment and infrastructure facilities are owned by the state and the fishers only receive their wages. The catch belongs to the state and is distributed through the public distribution system. Since all nets are imported and supplied to the fishers by the government, there is very little scope for an undue increase in fishing effort and the use of destructive mesh sizes as seen in the more democratic societies.

12. However, the state controlled system allows little room for entrepreneurship and incentive for higher productivity.

13. In Cuba, there is a well-organized network of fish seed production centres which cater almost exclusively to the stocking requirements of reservoirs. In the other countries, there are well-developed aquaculture industries which absorb much of the fish seed.

14. A licensing system with closed season enforcement and restrictions on the number of fishing units and mesh size is the standard exploitation system existing in almost all the countries except Zimbabwe and Cuba. However, the restrictions on fishing are seldom enforced. This situation emerges mainly because of the inherent limitations of democratic policy, where both coercion and imposition are ruled out.

15. Licensing procedures vary widely. In Zimbabwe and Mexico, owing mainly to environmental considerations, licensing procedures are complex, involving many agencies and institutions.

16. In India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, licences are issued by the state fisheries departments without referring the applications to the specialized environmental agencies.

17. The multiplicity of agencies involved in the process of issuing licences and managing fisheries can create incoherence in the activities. IBAMA in Brazil, which stipulates conditions on various conservation measures, does not have a role in the actual management of fisheries, nor doe it have adequate resources to enforce the regulations. A similar situation exists in Zimbabwe.

18. There is a strong presence of intermediaries in the inland fish marketing network in all the countries except Cuba. Evolution of cooperative culture is invariably slow.

19. The management practices followed in the countries are summarized below:

Zimbabwe: Most of the reservoirs are under private or community ownership and a system of licensing with state control on fishing effort and introductions is being developed. The fishing regulations are among the most stringent in the world. Cooperative societies are not well organized.

India: Most of the reservoirs are public water bodies under licensing systems. Crop sharing and auction systems are also present. Water bodies are owned by irrigation and power generation departments of the state governments, but they are not always very effective.

Thailand: Large reservoirs are state-owned and used by licensed fishers. Fisheries of small reservoirs are not well organized. The traditional practice of community fishing is followed in small reservoirs of the northeast.

Sri Lanka: Reservoirs are considered public water bodies as far as fishing rights are concerned. A licensing system is followed. Cooperative societies are organized, but not very effective.

Brazil: Fisheries of large water bodies are managed by public sector companies. Fishing licenses are issued by the companies through cooperatives. Small water bodies are managed on a community basis.

Cuba: The government owns and manages all water bodies and hires the fishers. Catches go to the national pool for distribution through the public distribution system.

Mexico: Large water bodies are owned by the government. Fishing is controlled through a licensing system. Cooperatives are being organized. Small reservoirs in some areas are still under community management.

10.3 Enhancement

20. Enhancement measures are invariably followed in some form in the management of SWBs in all the countries. Stock and species enhancement is adopted with varying degrees of success, while environmental enhancement is rarely resorted to.

21. Stocking measures undertaken by many countries do not have sound biological bases or any specific strategy.

22. Large countries such as Brazil, India and Mexico have too many water bodies under government control for the state machinery and infrastructure to meet all the stocking requirements. This results in understocking.

23. Since some species are difficult to breed, there is always a tendency to stock the ones that are readily available.

24. In many countries, while evaluating project performance, undue emphasis is placed on the number of fish stocked rather than the species. This results in an irrational mixing of species in many stocking endeavours.

25. Policies on species enhancement differ because of diverse national perspectives on introductions. Larger countries with rich indigenous ichthyofauna are conscious of their biodiversity and impose many restrictions on introductions.

26. The main characteristic of Indian policy on species stocking is the heavy dependence on Gangetic major carp, while Brazil's policy is to concentrate on species indigenous to the river basins. The policies of Cuba and Sir Lanka do not exclude the stocking of exotic species in reservoirs, whereas in Mexico and Thailand the policies can be considered liberal in this respect.

27. Norms and restrictions for introductions in these countries are different for extensive and intensive aquaculture, although in some borderline cases it is difficult to distinguish between the two.

28. In India, there are no restrictions on transbasin transplantation within the country, whereas it is discouraged in Brazil.

29. In India and Thailand, the national policies on exotic species are not very explicit and the enforcement of existing regulations is very lax.

30. Cuba and Sri Lanka, with scarce native fish fauna and liberal policies on introductions, have benefitted from the introduction of exotic species.

31. Regulations on the introduction of exotic species are very stringent in Zimbabwe.

32. IBAMA in Brazil stipulates that the reservoirs should be stocked with species affected by the dams. This does not yield any tangible results as stocked fish may not survive owing to the changed habitat variables in the reservoir ecosystem. Some degree of loss of fish species diversity is unavoidable and selective stocking of species from other basins may become imperative, if yield increase is to be achieved.

10.4 National priorities and intrasector and intersector conflicts

33. The contribution of small water bodies to the national inland fish production shows extreme variations. While in Zimbabwe, fish production from the SWBs represents a very negligible share of national production, it constitutes a lion's share in Sri Lanka and Cuba.

34. The importance of SWBs varies owing to the availability of water bodies and suitable fish species, their modes of management, the prevailing social setup, traditional food preferences, legislative and institutional measures, R&D, and infrastructural and marketing support from the state.

35. The inhabitants of Latin American countries are known for their preference of red meat over fish; therefore, the inland fisheries development received less attention in those countries. Cuba, an exception, gives priority to small reservoir fisheries development.

36. Asian countries such as India and Sri Lanka give high priority to fish production from the inland water bodies, especially the reservoirs.

37. Plans for fishery development often meet with disapproval from multiple environmental agencies. Aside from the stocking of exotic species, the quantity, size, and life stages of fish caught from small water bodies and many other related aspects may give rise to environmental controversies.

38. Many governments have taken initial steps to integrate norms of conservation of natural resources into the fish yield optimization programmes. IBAMA of Brazil, SEMARNAP of Mexico and AGRITEX/DNPWLM of Zimbabwe are the results of such attempts.

39. The roles and modus operandi of IBAMA, SEMARNAP and AGRITEX/DNPWLM differ. While IBAMA issues guidelines and shapes legislation on matters regarding fisheries management, it has a limited role in actual management. A vast majority of small and large public water bodies are managed by other agencies with which IBAMA has very little interaction.

40. The Secretaria de Pesca of Mexico, which merged into SEMARNAP, had a well-organized national network which formed a strong component of the new organization. However, the procedures involved in issuing licences in Mexico and Zimbabwe are rather cumbersome and time-consuming.

41. In India, there is very little coordination between the Ministry of Environment at the Centre and the fishery departments of the states. Similarly, there is very little organizational backup on such matters in Sri Lanka, Cuba and Thailand.

42. SEMARNAP of Mexico and the national Aquaculture Enterprise of Cuba have created good infrastructural facilities throughout the respective countries which benefit fisheries development.

43. Inland fisheries in general and the small water bodies in particular face jurisdictional problems and conflicts.

44. The three large countries, Brazil, India and Mexico, have federal structures with separate legislative machineries at national and subnational levels. In India, the management of inland fisheries falls within the jurisdiction of state governments and some states redelegate their fishing rights to the district. In Brazil, fisheries of reservoirs are managed by the power and irrigation agencies.

45. Conflicts on jurisdiction also arise with regard to the water bodies situated within the community lands in Zimbabwe and the ejido lands of Mexico.

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