Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

5. Stock enhancement of floodplain fisheries

Floodplains are seasonal wetlands formed by overspill of floodwaters from the rivers to which they are connected. Welcomme (2000) suggested that living aquatic resources in floodplain rivers have to be extremely robust, as they need to tolerate wide-ranging annual variations in the duration and extent of flooding, as well as being capable of surviving prolonged periods of drought. The natural productivity of floodplains is typically very high, and they act as nursery grounds for many riverine species. Indeed, some commercially important fishes such as indigenous minor cyprinids, catfishes etc. spawn in the floodplains. The importance of floodplains in the lifecycles of riverine fish has been comprehensively dealt with by Welcomme (1985, 2001) and others.

In Asia, significant stock enhancements of floodplains are restricted to Bangladesh and Myanmar. The floodplain fisheries in both countries are important not only from a fisheries production viewpoint, but also socio-economically, sustaining the livelihoods of large numbers of people. In Bangladesh, developments related to flood control and the related changes in habitat and inundation have resulted in declining natural recruitment of fish stocks and consequently, in reduced fish yields. Stock enhancement has been undertaken as a form of mitigation for this loss of natural recruitment. In some floodplains, sections may be completely cut off from the parental river by damming, thereby creating a perennial waterbody (this also happens naturally in the formation of oxbow lakes). Such waterbodies may not receive the same annual influx of nutrients from flooding, and the water regime comes under greater human control. Recruitment is also different, as the connectivity to the river is often lost and these fisheries are effectively culture-based fisheries (Section 8).

5.1 Bangladesh

Fish products account for 6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), 12 percent of export earnings and 70-85 percent of the animal protein intake in Bangladesh (De Graaf 2003). Freshwater fish account for more than 50 percent of dietary fish intake, and inland fisheries provide a source of employment to nearly 13 million people living in the floodplains.

Bangladesh, with a total area 143 998 km2, is essentially a huge delta formed by three principal river systems, the Brahamaputra (Jamuna), the Ganges (Padma) and the Megna and their tributaries, with a combined watershed exceeding 1 million km2. Bangladesh has no natural lakes and only one large inland waterbody, Kaptai Lake (58 300 ha), created by the damming of the Karnafuli River in 1961.

From about June to October, annual monsoon rains inundate approximately 2.83 million ha, resulting in vast floodplains that account for nearly 60 percent of all inland open waters in the country. These nutrient-rich floodplains provide a multitude of niches for aquatic organisms and are important as spawning and/or nursery grounds for many riverine fish species.

The annual floods fill relatively deep and large depressions in the floodplain, commonly referred to as "beels" and/or "haors", which tend to be perennial waterbodies. The area of such beels (Plate 8) is estimated to be around 115 000 ha (Rahaman 1987). The size and other morphometric features of the beels vary greatly. As a result of the development of flood protection schemes, most of the beels are dyked and remain as separate entities, but may be connected through channels. In addition, the floodplain may be excavated by individuals, depending on land availability, to trap fish from the receding floods. These excavations are referred to as "kuas".

Up to about the 1990s, river and floodplain fish production showed a decline, and the relative contribution of open-water fisheries to total inland fish production decreased from 63 percent in 1983-1984 to 47 percent in 1995 -1996 (Ahmed 1999). This decline in river and floodplain fisheries has been attributed to a number of causes, the most important being overfishing and reduction and modification of floodplain habitats resulting from developments for flood control. In an effort to reverse this decline, Bangladesh embarked on a stock enhancement strategy for the floodplains.

Plate 8. (A) & (B) General views of two beels in Bangladesh. Note the large lift net set for catching young. Photos courtesy of Dr. M.R. Hassan

5.1.1 Stock enhancement of floodplains and beels

Stocking of the floodplains and beels was initiated in 1989 as donor-supported development programmes.

The objective of these stock enhancement programmes was to increase fish production, provide employment opportunities and enhance the foodfish supplies to the large population living in the floodplains. In the very early stages, floodplains were stocked with 5-8 cm carp fingerlings, and although the impact of these stock enhancement attempts was not monitored, there were indications of increased fish production (Ali 1997). This initial encouraging result led to many donor-supported, controlled stock enhancement programmes to be undertaken as part of the First, Second and Third Fisheries Projects. No attempt will be made to summarize the results of each of these projects, but it is worth detailing some of the considerations that were attached to these programmes. It was considered that stock enhancement of the floodplains:

In the following sections, the results of stock enhancement undertaken during the Third Fisheries Project will be presented, with a view to evaluating the outcome of the strategy adopted in Bangladesh.

5.1.2 Species used and production

The species stocked varied between floodplains. The typical stocking is shown in Table 7. The floodplains chosen were mostly dyked and consequently, there was minimal natural recruitment of Indian major carps. The details on stocking, which was done in incremental steps over a six-year period when a total of 149 500 ha (26 floodplains) was stocked with 2 524 tonnes of carp fingerlings, are given in Table 8. The species composition and the stocking densities to be used were based on the pilot study conducted in 1991/1992 (Table 8).

Table 7. Typical species stocked and their stocking proportions for enhancement of floodplain fisheries in Bangladesh. (data from Islam 1999)

Common name

Scientific name

Stocking proportion (percentage)

Silver carp

Hypophthalmichthys molitrix


Common carp

Cyprinus carpio



Labeo rohita



Catla catla



Cirrhinus cirrhosus



Labeo calbasu


Java barb

Barbonymus gonionotus


The significant observations (Islam 1999) regarding the strategy adopted in the floodplains (beels) were:

According to Payne (1997), the total yield from the open floodplains ranged from 300-800 kg/ha, of which over 75 percent was wild fish. Payne (1997) also reports that although silver carp performed very poorly, common carp often performed well, with increments in excess of 30 times being achieved and individuals of 2 kg occurring in the catches after only four months in the floodplain. The relatively poor performance of silver carp (in contrast to that seen in oxbow lakes see Section 7) was attributed to poor phytoplankton biomass in the floodplain and this species’ highly migratory behaviour.

5.1.3 Fingerling/seed supplies

The size of fingerlings at stocking ranged from 7 to 16 cm for the major carps and from 5 to 11 cm for Java barb. These sizes were determined as optimal and were also relatively easily to procure. Fingerlings required for stock enhancement of floodplains were procured in two ways. The most effective way was to use the beels in the floodplains as nurseries, which then automatically disperses the fingerlings when the beels connect with the floodplains during monsoonal flooding. It is believed that such fingerlings will survive better than those brought from elsewhere because they will be acclimated to the environment. An alternative source is hatchery-nursed fingerlings.

Table 8. Summary results of floodplain stocking in Bangladesh under the Third Fisheries Project (modified from Islam 1999)








Area (ha)

3 000

23 000

24 000

24 000

32 000

43 500

149 500

Fingerlings stocked

Weight (tonnes) kg/ha







2 524








Baseline yield (tonnes)

Stocked species








Wild species


4 798

5 091

4 606

2 465

1 357

18 742

% stocked








Incremental yield (tonnes)

Stocked species



2 700

3 988

5 093

6 280

19 254

Wild species



2 983

2 390

2 628

4 005

12 617

% stocked







Production costs (Tk x 106)

























Value of incremental production (Tk x 106)

Stocked species








Wild species
















Retrieval rate (%)







Fish price per kg; stocked carps Tk 30, wild species Tk 25.
1 US$ = 48.36 Taka (1999)

Survival during the nursery stage in the beel is low, and overall, it is estimated that 10 percent of beel-reared stocks versus 25 percent of introduced seed stock are recoverable. The cost of seed stock is quite different, with beel-nursed fingerlings costing 0.78 Tk as compared to hatchery-nursed fingerlings costing 4.10 Tk. The floodplain stock enhancement programmes have resulted in an increased number of private hatcheries operated by local entrepreneurs, rather than increased employment of the poor. In the long term, the cost of fingerlings is expected to decrease and with flow-on, indirect benefits should accrue to floodplain fishers, which is essential in order to justify continued investment in the floodplain stock enhancement programmes.

5.1.4 Economic analysis

A number of economic analyses have been conducted on the stock enhancement of the floodplains in Bangladesh, in most instances using the same databases. The most comprehensive analysis, that of Islam (1999), is based on eight floodplains/beels (out of a total of 26 stocked during the period 1991-1997), which is purported to yield sufficient and statistically significant data. In this analysis, the rates of return were estimated for each beel for the duration of the trial and then projected over a 20-year period assuming there would not be any further stocking after 1996. The estimated returns ranged from 16 to 23 percent and 28 to 122 percent, respectively. The details on average costs and benefits for the eight beels are given in Table 9, and the losses in the initial four years are counted against the positive returns of the last two. The economic internal rate of return for the 20- year projected period was estimated to average 38 percent and that for the duration of the trial as 29.7 percent.

Table 9. Results of the economic analysis of floodplain stock enhancement of selected beels in Bangladesh. Stocking was completed in 1996, and the basis for the projections is given in the text (modified from Islam 1999)









20 year projected


Area stocked (ha)

3 700

13 200

14 700

22 200

14 200

22 200

22 200

Density (kg/ha)








Seed cost (Tk/kg)1








Incremental catch (tonnes) (a)2




2 181

4 373

3 339

3 708

4 117

Catch (kg/ha)









Avg. value (Tk/kg)








Costs (Tk x 1 000)


4 855

22 419

29 559

42 284

23 624

27 313

31 148

Fisher labour


5 696

8 645

10 991

9 922

11 591

11 591

Fishing equipment


8 731

13 458

18 167

14 688

20 026

20 026


2 065

9 557

14 263

18 012

11 799

17 430

17 430

Total financial (b)

8 666

46 403

65 927

89 466

59 936

76 360

80 195

Total economic (c)

7 366

39 442

56 036

76 046

50 947

64 906

68 166

Benefits (Tk x 1 000)

Total financial (d)


18 086

15 676

73 659

150 336

107 970

128 931

142 369

Total economic (e)


15 373

13 239

62 610

1 277 877

91 775

109 591

121 014

Net economic (f)

(7 366)

(24 069)

(13 436)

76 840

26 868

41 426

52 848

52 848

1 Tk 42 020 000 = US$ 1 million in 1996 prices; economic internal rate of return: 29.7%.
2 d = a (avg. value per kg); c = 85% of b; f = 85% of e; d is based on incremental catch value.

5.1.5 Administrative arrangements/management of stock-enhanced fisheries

The majority of floodplains in Bangladesh are government owned, but portions of the plains may be owned by individuals. In view of the importance of the floodplain fisheries to the national economy and in providing employment, many changes in management have taken place over the years. The effective introduction of management measures is further complicated by the social hierarchies based on caste and religion that exist in Bangladesh. For example, the bulk of fishers were purported to be "low-caste" Hindus, and in general, irrespective of caste etc., fishers represent one of the poorer parts of the community.

The major changes in floodplain fisheries management that have been introduced over the years, with the primary aim of increasing fish production and attaining equity, as far as possible, among the fishers can be summarized as follows:

5.1.6 Socio-economic impacts

A total of 85 000 fisher households benefited from the stock enhancement programme. This total comprised 22 percent full-time, 28 percent part-time and 50 percent subsistence fishers (Islam 1999). A summary of the socio-economic benefits emanating from stock enhancement in three floodplains is given in Table 10. It is evident from the data that all the indices considered were positively impacted during the post-stocking period, although to varying degrees. The greatest observed impact in all three floodplains was on fishing income. Such increases in household income through fishing are also considered to impact positively families indirectly and potentially, result in longer-term benefits. Based on these criteria, the official assessment was that stock enhancement could potentially lead to an improved quality of life for fisher households.

In contrast to the assumption that the increased income was an overall benefit, the perceptions of the fishers regarding the benefits of stock enhancement varied considerably (Table 11). In general, fishers/owners of fish aggregating devices and kuas (ditches) in the floodplains benefited the most.

Table 10. Economic impact of stock enhancement of floodplains on fishers, based on pre- and post-stocking over the six-year period 1991 to 1996 (modified from Islam 1999)

Indicator Assets (Tk/houshold)







60 688

72 644

121 893


63 020

83 548

128 571

% increase




Housing related


11 570

10 361

1 877


12 487

11 579

11 176

% increase




Fishing rights


3 881

5 209

3 698


7 946

6 026

3 967

% increase






2 800

3 016

4 580


3 451

4 023

5 210

% increase




Fishing gear


1 896

1 316

1 239


2 100

1 346

1 275

% increase






4 678

5 086

4 441


6 138

5 136

4 991

% increase




Fishing income


1 126

2 822

2 763


7 324

5 810

6 843

% increase




Per caput consumption day (g)









% increase




Average number of people per household was 6.1; All values in 1994 Taka.

Table 11. A summary of measurable impacts on households (%) and perceived impacts of stock enhancement on fishing communities in southwestern Bangladesh (based on data from Nabi 1999)

Beels/fisher type


No impact Loss attributed



Stocked normal beels

Professional, traditional1





Professional, non-traditional





Casual, marginal





Casual, non-marginal





Stocked waterlogged beels

Professional, traditional





Professional, non-traditional





Casual, marginal





Casual, non-marginal





1 Professional, traditional - have been dependent on fishing at least for two generations; casual, marginal - households owning <0.2 ha of land and dependent on fishing as the primary source of income.

This group was then followed by professional fishers, with minimum benefits accruing to casual, marginal fishers. The benefits from the fishery were also linked to conflicts between fishers and landowners. In waterlogged beels, 30 percent of traditional fishers believed there was no benefit, and a further 40 percent reckoned that there was actually a loss attributable to stocking (Nabi 1999). In conclusion, there was no universal agreement that stock enhancement was beneficial to all fishers, and the complex social interactions within the fishery had a strong impact in the way that the benefits of stock enhancement were distributed.

On the basis of the available information, it appears that enhancement has worked against the interest of the poorest fishers, and that it may, in effect, bring about negative impacts and the exclusion or marginalization of poor fishers from a waterbody. According to Thompson and Hossain (1997), the existing distribution of benefits from open-water fisheries reflect the local power structure, the property rights on the individual fishery and the pattern of ownership of the means of production. These authors argued that the same factors would determine the likely beneficiaries with a change in management system, including stock enhancement.

Toufique (1999) dealt with the pros and cons of the changing regulations and the reasons why the intended objectives of the administrators/government have not been realized. He considered why the "true fishers" have not been able to embrace fully the changes and why they have not benefited from the changes made. To date, most of the stock enhancement programmes that have been carried out have been attempted under co-management strategies that have not adequately taken into account social factors and access rights. A prerequisite for the effective co-management of individual fisheries of each waterbody is that fishers hold property rights over the fishery resources, which has yet to become a reality (Toufique 1999). Further, success in development of these enhancement programmes and their sustainability depend upon:

5.2 Myanmar

The total reported fish production of Myanmar in 2001 was 1 283 490 tonnes, of which inland capture fisheries, the sector considered to have the highest potential for development, accounted for 18.4 percent. Fish is the main source of animal protein for the people of Myanmar, with an average consumption of 22.7 kg/caput/yr, and is particularly important in the rural areas. Overall fish consumption in Myanmar is believed to be grossly under-estimated, and it has been suggested that consumption could range between 26-34 kg/caput/yr (FAO 2003). Myanmar has four large river systems: the Ayeyarwaddy (Irrawaddy, 2 150 km), the Chindwin (a major tributary of the Irrawaddy, 844 km), the Sittaung (563 km) and the Thanlwin (2 400 km), as well as a small section of the Mekong River and associated large floodplains (estimated total area 8.1 million ha).

Most of the inland fisheries in Myanmar are covered by a traditional leasable fishery type administrative structure known as an "inn". These were the subject of a monograph by Khin (1948), which is paraphrased below. The leasable fisheries (inn leasable fisheries) of Myanmar have a long history and were originally (pre-1864) hereditary properties based upon fixed rents. Under the Burma Fishery Act (1864), the leasable fisheries passed from the ownership of individuals into state control. This was considered necessary at the time so that the leasable fisheries could be effectively administered. There were continuing problems with the effective administration of the leasable fisheries that resulted in the investigation of the fisheries and related problems by Colonel Maxwell in 1895 and culminated in the Burma Fishery Act (III) in 1905, which contained a number of recommendations from the investigation. These covered:

· Conservation

The recommendations of the investigation were the subject of dispute, especially those regarding the creation of "reserves". The reserves were places where fishing was prohibited, except for the taking of predatory fish. These sites were intended to be "an annual source of natural stock for replenishing leased fisheries". At the time, the discussion related to the perception that overfishing was not apparent and that revenues from the fisheries were in fact increasing, indicating that catches were increasing (although this was misguided, as prices were increasing and therefore, actual catch may not have been). Similarly, increasing consumption was attributed to greater access to the marine fishery catch due to improvements in transportation and preservation, rather than inland fisheries improvement. There was still no evidence, however, that the inland fisheries catch was actually declining. As a result, the reserves degenerated into open-access fisheries, thereby denying the government revenue. The fishing methods were, in some cases, the same as those employed when the fisheries were leased, however, there was a range of prohibited fishing methods and there were certain restrictions that related to migrations of fish.

· Prevention of deterioration by siltation

This recommendation related primarily to the avoidance of bunding of rivers and streams in order to prevent siltation of water courses. It was also suggested that "weed clearing of stream beds and afforestation of waste lands in the catchment be organized".

· Modification of relationships

The relationship between lessees in the deltaic areas was problematic when dealing with common stocks and the network of streams and flooded areas, and the study essentially recommended that "custom" should prevail.

The change from "hereditary property on fixed rents" to the allotting of leases "by favour or by lots at very moderate rent" that occurred in the early days of British rule had several effects. The income that could be generated from the lots led to competition for the leases, and there was subsequent problems in the transparency of the allotment process. As a result, the auction system was introduced. This led to a great increase in fishery revenues and "gambling bids", and auction prices increased greatly around 1900. An additional effect was the subdividing fisheries leases, as the administration of the time focussed on trying to increase this revenue. To reduce the effect of the auction system and increasing bids, an annual lease was imposed, but the short-term nature of the leases meant that lessees had little incentive to reinvest or conserve stocks and encouraged the maximization of the catch.

In 1918, there was an attempt to introduce a system of leasing fisheries to "cooperative groups of fishermen", but this was found to be "unworkable". In 1926, the introduction of "fair rents" was aimed at controlling this process, but the establishment of a "fair rent" for a fishery that varied hugely every year in terms of impacts of flooding and production also proved unworkable. While the annual lease led to over-exploitation and a short-term outlook by the lessees, a long-term lease also led to the lessees making good money in good fishing years and then defaulting on their lease payments during a bad year.

Prior to Second World War, there were 4 006 inn-leasable fisheries, but post-war this had declined to 3 710. By 1948, although there was still no settlement on the best system for issuing of leases for leasable fisheries, a pragmatic policy was in place that prescribed a number of alternative methods:

The conclusion was that the management suggestions made by Maxwell were too theoretical and were contrary to the pragmatic system of management that was employed, and that further investigation and development of sound legislation coupled to an efficient fishery administration were required.

By 1999, the number of leasable fisheries had further reduced to 3 474, with some of the leasable fisheries sites being converted to agriculture. If the agriculture subsequently failed, the land essentially becomes an "open fishery" or available for exploitation by local business interests. According to the Department of Fisheries (DoF), there are currently (2002) 3 722 such floodplain leases in Myanmar, of which 3 490 are still exploitable. Of the exploitable floodplain fisheries, 52.3 percent are located in the Ayeyarwaddy system, which has a discharge of 13 500 m3/sec and a catchment of 424 000 km2 (Welcomme 1985). These lease fisheries operate through the erection of barrage fences around the lease area, which retains the fish as they grow on the floodplain food resources. Over the years, some of these lease fisheries have been developed into permanent waterbodies through the construction of dams or dikes (Plate 9). The resulting fisheries in these waters are based on both naturally recruited and introduced stocks.

5.2.1 Stock enhancement of floodplain fisheries

Stock enhancement strategies, where adopted, vary significantly among the different waterbodies. The three examples presented in this section are considered to be representative of the floodplain fishery practices in Myanmar related to managed leasable fisheries (inns).

· The lease fishery managed by U Thin Mynt

Approximately 10 km south of Mandalay is a good example of an inn-lease fishery that has been recently developed through stock enhancement. The total area when flooded is approximately 220 ha (Plate 9), which now includes a diked area of approximately 4 ha of water. The dike is used for nursing fry of the stocked species (common carp, bighead carp and silver carp) to fingerling size. In a typical year, about 800 000 fry are purchased from a hatchery in April and stocked in the diked area. The nursery pond is given supplemental feeding. During the monsoonal season, as the water floods the lease fishery, the fingerlings are released to the open water.

Harvesting commences from about early December as the flood recedes, and in a good year this inn yields up to 150 tonnes (approximately 682 kg/ha/yr). The average weight of common carp at harvest is 1.5 kg, and bighead carp of up to 10 kg may be caught. Naturally recruited species, mainly minor cyprinids and catfishes (Mystus spp.) account for about 20-25 percent of the total yield. The fishery and associated activities (agriculture in the floodplain in the dry season etc.) are managed by 40 families, all of whom live on-site.

· Kan Daw Gyi lease fishery

The current lessee commenced management of this peri-urban fishery in 1990 when stock enhancement was not practiced and the yield was entirely dependent on natural recruitment. Stock enhancement commenced with a general clean up of the waterbody and the introduction of netpens in 1995/1996, and the area under pen culture increased from 4 to 40 ha in the space of three years. Subsequent local-authority regulations banned netpen cages and the lessee converted the inn into a perennial waterbody by building a dike. At the same time, the lessee commenced stock enhancement.

Plate 9. Two different types of leases in the floodplains of Myanmar; (A) a non-perennial floodplain lease in south Mandalay; in the foregroud is a pond created by an embankments for rearing of fry and fingerlings to be be released with the floods, and (B) a large perennial water body in the floodplains (Thaung Tha Ma; 600 ha) in the process of being fished. The latter has been dyked and consequently the water body is perennial

Currently, the waterbody is stocked annually with 2-3 million fingerlings of common carp, bighead carp and silver carp, and 500 000-600 000 grown animals are fished annually, the average weights ranging from 1.5-2.0, 5 and 3-4 kg, respectively. The operations are run through a tightly knit unit comprised of a fishing team and hatchery and feed technicians. The stock is fed three times each day. Fish kills have occurred on two occasions in the last five years, probably as a consequence of heavy feeding exacerbated by sewage runoff from the surrounding urban area.

Plate 10. (A) The day’s landings of tilapia (O. niloticus), one of the main constituent species, of the Thaung Tha Ma leasable fishery, and (B) the women folk, drawn from the village, purchasing their quota of fish (15 to 20 kg per individual vendor) for sale in the village

· Thaung Tha Ma lease fishery

This lease fishery involves a 600 ha perennial waterbody that still maintains a connection to the river through the construction of a weir. The fishery was initially based on stock enhancement using rohu, mrigal, bighead and common carp, and naturally recruited species, which accounted for about 35 percent of the yield. However, over the last three to four years there has been a major change in the fishery, and it is currently based primarily on seeding/self-recruitment of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) accompanied by enhancement with rohu. The latter are mostly reared in dyked ponds at the leeward portion of the waterbody, and are supplemented by natural recruitment of the species from the river. Nile tilapia account for about 60 percent of the current production, the landing size ranging from 400 -600 g.

Fishing is done by men drawn from the surrounding villages who work in teams, except from June to September, and the catches are landed at one of the four landing sites. The daily catch ranges from 5 to 10 tonnes, and accordingly, the annual productivity of this waterbody is estimated to be about 2 800 kg/ha/yr. The day’s catch is purchased by the lessee and/or his agents, at a price lower than the existing market price. The landings are then sold to womenfolk of the villages (Plate 10), each being allocated a quota of 15 to 20 kg, depending on the quantity landed. These women, in turn, then take their allocated quota of fish to the adjacent village markets or move from house to house selling fish, with a modest mark up of about 15-20 percent. For example, Nile tilapia is sold to the women vendors at 400 Kyats/kg and they in turn sell to the consumer at about 480 Kyats/kg (850 Kyats = 1 US$).

The fishing operations and the marketing are well organized, and there appears to be extensive community involvement in both processes. The lessee has designated areas identified as tilapia breeding grounds, and these are no-fishing zones. Illegal fishing is minimized by involving the villages surrounding the inn in the fishing and marketing of the product. Employees of the lessee also monitor potential illegal fishing. One other management strategy that is adopted is feeding during the flood recession, which is purported to prevent or discourage fish from migrating back into the river.

Unlike in the fishery of Kan Daw Gyi lease, this fishery, by virtue of the fact that it maintains its connection with the river and the rest of the floodplain, experiences significant recruitment of small-sized fish, mostly cyprinids. The lessee sub-contracts artisanal fishers (Plate 11) to exploit this resource on a profit-sharing basis, and as such, permits a few fishers to be employed. These catches are sold fresh and/or processed into fish sauces and pastes.

Plate 11. An artisanal fisher in the Thaung Tha Ma leasable fishery with a catch of naturalluy recruited species (mostly small sized cyprinids)

Although this fishery is effectively controlled by a single lessee, it is an excellent example of how broader community involvement can be achieved through provision of employment and income generation opportunities. Approximately 5 000 persons drawn from 12 adjacent villages are estimated to benefit directly from this stock-enhanced fishery. Apart from direct monetary benefits to individual families and their livelihoods, there are other flow-on indirect benefits to the community. The lessee claims to contribute to local village events, thereby reinforcing the legitimacy of his control over the fishery with the villagers.

5.2.2 Fingerling supplies

In Myanmar, production of seed stock is mostly carried out in government hatcheries, with very few inn fisheries having their own hatcheries. The establishment of small "backyard" hatcheries is being encouraged by the government, mostly to meet the increasing demand for fry and fingerlings for pond culture, although they can also supply fry to the lease fisheries (Plate 12). Generally, the demand for fingerlings for the inn fisheries stocking means that large quantities of fry are produced and then nursed to fingerling size (see Plate 10) in a diked area of the lease.

5.2.3 General observations

The stock enhancement system of floodplain fisheries in Myanmar is quite different to that in Bangladesh. The examples presented above clearly indicate that in Myanmar, enhancement of fisheries is essentially a culture-based system, with well-defined ownership of the stock. The enhancement may not always be effective, as stocking of the inn fisheries is also partly a requirement for the continuing extension of the lease. This means that the principal purpose of the restocking is to ensure lease extension rather than yield improvement. The result is that the contribution of the enhancement to the overall yield of the inn may not be that significant.

Plate 12. (A) A small "back yard" hatchery in Mandalay District, Myanmar, and (B) homestead broodstock ponds of Indian major carps

Unlike in Bangladesh, individual fisheries are not co-managed, and access is controlled by the lessee. In spite of these differences, there are many direct beneficiaries from the individual fisheries, and perhaps more involvement of fishers in the activities of the inn fisheries in Myanmar as compared to Bangladesh. It is quite evident that the greatest beneficiary of the Myanmar inn fisheries is the lessee of each fishery, as much as the main creditor to the fishers is the main beneficiary in the Bangladesh situation (Toufique 1999). More importantly, the differences in access to the benefits reflect the cultural and traditional differences prevalent in the two countries. In Myanmar, there is currently no explicit attempt to change the existing system of leasing of floodplain inns. This is partly due to the ease of revenue generation for the state under the existing system, as well as the inevitable restriction on access that the lessees place on their individual inns. Since these two objectives are principle goals of most inland fishery management schemes, it could be said that the existing leasable fishery system in Myanmar is relatively sustainable from the perspective of biological yield. The equitable distribution of the benefits of these fisheries is no more questionable, due to access limitations and the transparency of the auction and lease extension process.

Unfortunately, there has not yet been any rigorous evaluation of the impact of enhancements or a cost-benefit analysis of stock enhancement of floodplain fisheries. Such a study, coupled with an appropriate analysis of the socio-economic impacts of the existing system of management of the leasable fisheries, would be highly desirable, as it is quite a unique system.

The management interventions, costs incurred on some items, estimated production and the value of production of the example three stock-enhanced fisheries in Myanmar are summarized in Table 12. The leases of the three fisheries have been in effect for eight to nine years without a change of the lessees. Perhaps this is a very good indication that the fisheries are profitable to the lessees. If not, one would expect a change in the lease, especially taking into account that the lease value of all leases has increased over the years. The issue of lease duration also confronts any system of management. Since leases that are issued annually tend to result in maximal extraction with no re-investment, longer-term leases are considered to be an incentive for lessees to reinvest in their operation in activities such as habitat restoration/maintenance and stock enhancement.

Table 12. A summary description of the three stock enhanced floodplain (lease) fisheries in Mandalay District, Myanmar (FAO 2004, all information based on interviews and should be considered approximate). (Market exchange rate in April 2003: 850 Kyats = 1 US$)

South Mandalay (222 ha)

Continuous lease (yrs)


· Small seasonally flooded area

Lease cost (Kyats/yr)

1st yr: 17 000

· Agricultural/in the dry season

8th yr: 500 000

· Fry nursed in dyked area

Feed fed (tonnes/yr)


· Supplementary feed used

Feed cost (Kyats/yr)

740 000

· Fingerlings released into the flooded area

Production weight (tonnes/yr)

151 (680 kg/ha)

· Main stocked fish - common carp

Poor season:

· Harvesting & marketing fish

100 (450 kg/ha)

· Guarding/patrolling the lease

Production value (US$)

$30 000

· 40 families involved in activities

Kan Daw Gyi (300 ha)

Continuous lease (yrs)


· Permanent waterbody

Lease cost (Kyats/yr)

45 000

· Area increased from about 40 ha initially

Feed fed (tonnes/yr)

~1 095 (3 tonnes/day)

· Receives urban run off; appears to be very eutrophic

Feed cost (Kyats/yr)

~ 480 000 000

Production weight (tonnes/yr)

1 260 (4 200 kg/ha)

· Stock advanced fingerlings of Chinese & Indian major carps, approximately 2-3 x 106

Production value (US$)

$630 000

· Own hatchery & feed mill

· Intensively fed

· Netting/feeding crew

Thaung Tha Ma (600 ha)

Continuous lease (yrs)


· Permanent waterbody with connection to the river

Lease cost (Kyats/yr)

5 000 000

· Stocking of 1 x 106/yr

Feed fed (tonnes/yr)

Some seasonally

· Introduced Nile tilapia, the mainstay of the current fishery

Feed cost (Kyats/yr)

12 000 000

· Tilapia breeding grounds protected

Production weight (tonnes/yr)

1 680 (2 800 kg/ha)

· Two fisher teams harvest; paid 20% of catch; four landing sites

Production value (US$)

$840 000

· Closed season - June to Sept.

· Marketing done through village womenfolk; each a quota of 15-20 kg/day

· A few artisanal fishers permitted to use small gear; catches mainly naturally recruited riverine species

· A large number of villages involved in operations & estimated 5 000 direct beneficiaries

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page