The project progress meeting was held 6 months after field work had begun in order to assess progress and plan for future activities. The meeting comprised three days of meetings for project staff followed by an open workshop with a broader group of stakeholders within the Bangladesh research and development community.
A summary of country specific outputs was developed that identified the differences and similarities in contexts between and within countries. 'Fishing' was usually identified as one of the most important activities of both poorer and better off people in the communities assessed but fish culture was hardly identified except in Vietnam and Bangladesh. Aquatic animals were important parts of peoples' diets with taste and availability being the key criteria for popularity. Ease of capture was important especially to poor men and cooking and processing to women. The high value of fish, especially for cultured species in Vietnam and SRS in Cambodia and Thailand was apparent. SRS were identified as particularly important to the poor, especially non-fish. Although some key, important SRS appear to be in decline through the region (e.g snakehead, catfish) others remain abundant despite intensification of agro-ecosystems.
A major problem was identifying the boundaries to 'farmer-managed' systems and defining them, wherever possible, characteristics common to all research sites. These were eventually defined as 3 systems relating to position of ponds/ditches and their connection with ricefields. It was decided that further enquiry was required to establish the nature of aquaculture systems and other water resources in the communities assessed and that monitoring would be limited to 30 households per country. The frequency and nature of monitoring visits were discussed and deadlines set for detailed development of a monitoring checklist and data storage system. The development of a preliminary framework for the PCA outputs was useful to ensure the feedback to the group of stakeholders had substance and to allow their considered comment on an overview of the regional situation. We used the open stakeholder workshop to invite comment on the objectives and relevance of the major issues that the project was attempting to tackle. Representatives of NGO's, the Department of Fisheries and various research groups gave valuable feedback on these aspects and on approaches to disseminating the outcomes of the research. Stakeholder scrutiny at an early stage was encouraged and the meeting was widely reported in the National press.
Workshop on the Role of Self-Recruiting Species in Aquaculture in Rural Livelihoods, Dhaka, Bangladesh, August 19 - 24, 2001