In Bangladesh, extensive common pool fisheries exist in the wet season on private lands in the floodplains. This study investigated the trend in year-round enclosure of these seasonal commons for private aquaculture and the impacts of this practice. The floodplain area enclosed for aquaculture was found to be growing at 30–100% a year. Enclosures are organised by individual landowners, informal groups or companies that lease in land. Aquaculture in enclosures produces more fish than capture fisheries, but input costs are high. Traditional fishers report that catches of wild fish decline in the floodplains as a whole and there is a loss of livelihood. Those with large farms benefit while marginal farmers lose access to common aquatic resources and also to land for sharecropping. The landless have less fish to eat and sell, but some gain employment. The government has encouraged private floodplain aquaculture in recent years. However, it is recommended that this trend should be regulated to limit loss of key natural fisheries and widening inequality. This should be informed by more detailed quantification of the costs and benefits of floodplain aquaculture, including fishery and distributional impacts.
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