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11. Recommendations

1. In spite of their unquestionable role in ensuring food security and improving the living standards of many communities in the developing countries, a universally acceptable definition for small water bodies is still elusive, causing confusion and difficulties in making international comparisons on the subject. Anderson’s (1987) description of small water bodies is adequate and this may be adopted by FAO as a standard international definition.

2. SWBs, being a group of ill-defined, nondescript, ubiquitous and highly dispersed water bodies, are very difficult to enumerate. As a result, most of the countries do not have proper inventories of this resource. FAO should encourage, guide and provide technical assistance to the member countries in creating GIS-based national inventories of small water bodies which will help in the planning of developmental programmes.

3. Since SWBs in many countries are traditionally treated and managed as common property resources with open access to all, restrictions on the fishing activities aimed at yield optimization often lead to discontent and conflicts. This can be resolved only through participatory management by the local communities. Except for some isolated attempts in Zimbabwe and Brazil, no serious effort has been made by any country in this direction. More serious and organized effort is needed to organize groups for participatory management in all the countries. Since the concept is unconventional, FAO should take the lead in providing necessary directions in this regard.

4. The major management measures, such as stocking, fishing effort management and size at capture, are generally determined arbitrarily. Scientific advice is now available on the determination of these parameters through a modelling approach. FAO should take the lead in conveying the available expertise on the subject to the member countries.

5. Small water bodies represent a complex blend of traditional, capture and culture-based fisheries, the development of which requires careful consideration of fish population and environment management. A streamlined strategy including the environmental, socio-economic and fisheries development issues involved in the fisheries management of SWBs does not exist in many countries. Despite an apparent commonality, the management strategy has to be country-specific taking local conditions into consideration. Thus, urgent action is needed at national levels for setting up organizations to coordinate the developmental activities in accordance with environmental norms.

6. In all the countries there is a need to either eliminate or reduce arbitrariness in order to organize the licensing systems properly which is possible only when scientific advice is applied. Action is needed in this regard at national and subnational levels.

7. Existing national organizations such as AGRITEX/DNPWLM and SEMARNAP, which have protracted procedures for issuing licences, need to be streamlined in order to be more responsive and effective.

8. In the countries where inland fishery is integrated into interdepartmental organizations, it invariably receives low priority compared to forestry, wildlife, agriculture, etc. As a result, there is a severe lack of personnel and other resources to implement the regulations. This is very much evident in the functioning of AGRITEX/DNPWLM, IBAMA and SEMARNAP. Therefore, the fishery segments of these organizations need to be strengthened. The fisheries departments of India, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Cuba, which deal directly with the licensing, have an advantage in terms of human resources; however, the fishery authorities of these countries should acquire expertise on environmental conservation norms.

9. As enhancement in all forms is a delicate management option, it should be exercised with care, especially when the water bodies contiguous with natural ecosystems are involved, as subtle changes in the habitats and biotic communities could be triggered. Countries should formulate national policies based on sound scientific advice, regarding the nature and extent of such enhancements in order to determine their overall sustainability and environment-friendliness.

10. Many national policies on the introduction of exotic species are neither explicit nor are they based on scientific advice. The decision to allow or disallow a species should be based on the possible impact of the introduction on the native ichthyofauna. A distinction should be made between using exotic species for extensive aquaculture and stocking them in open waters.

11. The possible benefits of stocking exotic species in extensive aquaculture of small reservoirs which have no connections with open waters cannot be ignored when considering the species for introductions.

12. Since silver carp and tilapia have proved to be very useful in improving the yields from reservoirs in Cuba and Sri Lanka, attempts should be made to introduce them in other countries as well.

13. In India, Gangetic carp, despite being alien to the peninsular drainages, are regularly stocked in the southern reservoirs with very few beneficial effects, while exotic species such as Nile tilapia and silver carp are avoided. Oreochromis niloticus, which is capable of establishing a breeding population, should be introduced to the peninsular reservoirs where Gangetic carp failed. Similarly, silver carp can utilize the abundant plankton resources of Indian reservoirs.

14. The Governments of India and Brazil should select appropriate numbers of reservoirs and river stretches to be retained as sanctuaries to protect their biodiversity. The remaining reservoirs in these countries should be stocked with the species suitable for yield optimization, thus bridging the existing gap between actual and potential yield that exists in the two countries.

15. While selecting species for stocking, a clear distinction must be made between small water bodies and the large, deep open waters where annual stocking and recapture were found to be ineffective. Species that have a fair chance of breeding and establishing themselves such as Oreochromis niloticus should be introduced in such systems.

16. The small Indian reservoirs, which offer scope for stocking and recapture, should be stocked with Indian major carp, silver carp and common carp depending on their catchability and the availability of food.

17. The IBAMA restrictions on stocking of reservoirs in Brazil need to be revised on the basis of sound scientific advice. Selected reservoirs under the power and irrigation agencies should be stocked through appropriate transbasin and transborder transfer of species in order to improve yield rates. The present policy of breeding and stocking only native species and constructing fish passes may not yield tangible benefits.

18. The strong presence of intermediaries in the marketing chains of almost every country except Cuba is a disturbing trend. Since the evolution of cooperative culture is very slow because of the low level of awareness among the fishers, it is necessary to provide institutional funding by relaxing criteria for credit.

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