Holly Holmes/WorldFish

Small fish, big benefits

The CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) advocates for a new approach to sustainable intensification in which a healthy, functioning ecosystem is viewed as a prerequisite to agricultural development. A new film from the program provides an example of what can be achieved when an ecosystem service-based approach is applied to development today’s challenges.

The Beels of Bangladesh’ documents the efforts of one WLE project to employ a community-based approach to the management of inland, floodplain fisheries. The project, led by WorldFish, a partner of WLE and a member of the CGIAR Consortium, built upon ten years of previous research on community fisheries in the region. Researchers worked with communities in six focal sites across Bangladesh’s northwestern Ganges Brahmaputra floodplain to identify opportunities to improve fish production by increasing the resilience of the floodplain ecosystems.

The end result was not only stronger ecosystems, but also more inclusive and equitable communities. Increased fish productivity allowed the fishing cooperatives—which once retained sole rights to fish in the floodplains—to grant landless community members the right to harvest small fish using traditional fishing methods.

Future activities in WLE’s Ganges region will build upon the community-based fisheries management project and focus on areas where there are opportunities to use ecosystem-based approaches as an entry point for sustainable intensification.