I. ENVIRONMENT AND ASSESSMENT OF FLOOD IMPACTS
C. Ecological resources
Bangladesh is the world's leader in open water fish production per unit area (FPCO, 1995b) and ranks third in total production, with only China and India producing more than Bangladesh (Ali, 1990). After jute, fish products are the second most important export commodity. About 260 species of fin-fish, over 20 species of prawn and 20 species of fresh water turtles inhabit the inland water system and the total number of species is more than the number of species found in the entire continent of Europe. In addition, there are 475 marine species which depend upon the interaction between the land drainage system, the estuarine ecology and the marine nutrient and habitat systems.
Breeding, multiplication and sustenance of the inland water fish and prawn populations takes place in a single integrated biological production system directly related to annual flooding. The fish spawn in the rivers and estuaries migrate during the monsoon season to the flooded fields of the floodplain to feed and mature. When the floods recede, they move back to the rivers and Beels. The BBS (1996a) estimate of the yield of fish from different types of fisheries for the period July 1992 - June 1993 shows that during this period 770,162 metric tons of fish were harvested from the inland waters, representing 76 per cent of the total fish harvest of the country. Again, out of the harvest from the inland waters, a total of 532,419 metric tons or 69 per cent was taken from the inland water capture fishery system, with floodplains alone contributing about 62 per cent of that amount.