|Short-term training programme on GIS (Geographic Information System) for fisheries (1993)|
Dr. V.R.P. Sinha
FAO/UNDP, Senior Specialist, Fisheries
Research Management & Development
The importance of base-line reliable data on resource inventory for planning and management for sustainable exploitation of aquatic resources both in inland and marine sectors needs not to be over emphasised. They become all the more important in the highly dynamic situations of Bangladesh.
Already terrestrial ecosystem is threatened with fast shrinking man land ratio. Population already stands above 110 million in the land of 55,598 square miles and expected to rise as high as 200 million by 2025. Every child born today would need 0.08 ha. of land for purposes like housing, roads, waste disposal, power supply and other uses and 0.4 ha. of land for producing the food he or she needs. The country as the eight most populous nation in the world with a growth rate of over 2% would need about 1 million ha. of additional land every year. Thus, the growing pressure of a fast expanding human and animal population on land would further lead to an alarming degree of destruction and diminution of the biological potential of land through erosion, alkanity, salinity, water logging and various other forms of soils abuses.
Similarly, the aquatic ecosystem is in peril with increasing rate of sedimentation and poor primary productivity management and utilization. It is estimated that 2.4 billion tons of silt pass annually from Bangladesh through the river systems compared to 1 to 2 billion tons in South and North American rivers respectively. It is estimated that amount of silt passing over to the Bay of Bengal has increased a hundred times in the last century.
Sunlight, which is abundant except during limited periods in the monsoon, offers fairly high intensity of solar energy over 500-600 cal/cm2/day. The solar energy flux has a net assimilation rate amounting to about 8 g biomass/m2/day or about 30 t dry matter/ha/yr which can produce fish at the rate of about 10-15 t/ha/yr without feed or fertilizers. Yet, it is seen that presently 5-10 t/h/yr of fish is produced with extraneous feed and fertilizers, reflecting very poor primary productivity management and utilization.
Change in the pattern of land and water use is common in the country with adoption of HYV in crop production. However, the extent of pond surface in this water-rich country amounts to about 0.26 million ha. representing only 2-3% of the arable land. But this is expected to increase day by day and would bring conflict with other water use.
Taming of rivers and consequent loss of flood plain fishery, add to the adverse effect on fisheries. Present active flood plains area remaining outside the FCD or FCDI projects are around 5.487 million ha. About 2.1 million ha of flooded land has already been brought under FCD. According to the Bangladesh Water Development Boards future plans another 2.4 million ha of flooded lands might be covered by the FCD project by the year 2005. Thus within another decade about 2.4 million ha. of fish producing area would be further reduced.
Pollution of water is yet another serious problem confronting fisheries sector. The present utilization of fertilizers in the country is over 2000 tons/yr which has increased by 124% over the last four years and about 400% since 1977. The industries in the country generally do not have much of waste treatment facilities, more so in the coastal area where over 1250 manufacturing industries are situated which is about 25% of the total industry in the country. These do not have any waste treatment facilities of approved design from the department of environments. In addition, municipal wastes also add to the pollution of the water bodies.
Disruption of mangrove forest and increasing use of coastal area for shrimp farming have resulted in the loss of 30,000 ha of mangrove. Marine Sector also suffered with over exploitation of near shore area and under exploitation of EEZ.
Thus, the whole situation becomes much more complex in the country. To add to this, many development projects have been initiated and in some cases completed with little access to scientific informations about fish and fisheries resources and also of socio-economic informations of those who are undertaking fisheries.
Under the above circumstances the country needs a most pragmatic ecologically sound, economically feasible and socially acceptable fisheries development plan.
For proper Fisheries Research Planning and Development and also to monitor the progress of development projects, quick and highly reliable and effective georeferenced data are essential. This could be possible through the Geographical Information System i.e. GIS, which is an advanced information technology. This can effectively capture, store, retrieve, update, analyse and finally display all forms of georeferenced data. It requires a synchronized arrangement of computer hardware, software, skilled personnel and geographically required spatial data with the help of satellite imagery, aerial photography, topo maps, ground truthing etc.
It is important that Geographic Information System is established through development of digitised maps of the fisheries resources based on satellite imagery of sites and conventional studies. This will provide a quick, reliable and structured informations for the required assessment and evaluation of impact of fisheries management and development programmes. Thus, it is in this context, it is thought appropriate that fisheries researchers and development workers should be familiarized with the Geographical Informations system and also give their input in framing the required informations needed for GIS for fisheries.
The course has been so designed in consultation with scientists from SPARRSO that proper exposure is given to the participants about the principle of remote sensing, different method of remote sensing, data processing and image analysis, fundamental of GIS along with relevant demonstrations. At the same time it is also ensured that SPARRSO scientists could also know the expected date requirements for Fisheries Research Planning and Development.
The training programme would focus on the different aspects of the Computerised Geographical Information System for fisheries which could assist the scientists to have useful information related to
- Baseline data on the fisheries sites, their catchment and drainage.
- Ecological status of soil, water, aquatic biology, fauna and flora and land use pattern.
- Socio-economic status of fishermen, farmers community, in the bordering villages, thanas and districts; fish marketing infrastructure and trading practices.
- Monitoring the environmental changes in the different aquatic ecosystems, their catchment and drainage.
These informations would help in proper aquatic resource utilization, management and conservation of fisheries resources while preserving the environment and also in training manpower at primary, secondary and tertiary levels etc. for environment monitoring and management.
Thus, the science and art of remote sensing and GIS would help the participants in their endeavour to plan properly R & D in fisheries for the progressive utilization of aquatic resources most scientifically on sustainable basis.