Bangladesh Needs Intensive Surveys to Gauge Potential of Its ‘Blue Economy’

This report is produced by UNB
United News of Bangladesh
and IPS Inter Press Service.

By Muhammad Syfullah
DHAKA, Bangladesh, Feb 27 2019 (IPS-Partners)

(UNB/IPS) – Bangladesh needs intensive surveys in the Bay of
Bengal, complemented by proper interpretation of the findings and
appropriate research to gauge the potential of its ‘blue
economy’ as the country largely depends on the stocks of living
and non-living marine resources falling within its Exclusive
Economic Zone, experts said.

In case of marine fisheries, they stressed the need for
effective management to ensure the sustainability of marine
fisheries resources by avoiding overfishing and fishing during
breeding period, otherwise fish stock might severely decline here
like the Gulf of Thailand.

The newly formed Awami League government also pledged in its
2018 election manifesto that oil and gas exploration will be
intensified as part of its plans for ensuring optimum utilisation
of the blue economy or marine resources.

In 2016, Bangladesh procured a research vessel, equipped with
the latest technology for fisheries and other oceanographic
research, from Malaysia to assess the country’s marine living
resources, having obtained a vast tract of the northern Indian
Ocean following the disposal of longstanding disputes with two
neighboring countries.

The 37.8-meter-long multipurpose research vessel started its
assessment in the Bay in November, 2016.

Though the survey vessel has so far completed 16 cruises, it
will take more time to gain a complete picture of fisheries
resources in Bangladeshi waters in the Bay of Bengal.

Prof Sayedur Rahman Chowdhury of the Institute of Marine
Sciences and Fisheries at Chittagong University said the fisheries
resources in the Bay of Bengal have long been showing several
indications of decline for lack of effective fisheries management
in the past decades, particularly resulting in overfishing.

He said different data indicate that many large fish species
like Lakkha (Indian Salmon) and Coral fish, which were available in
past years, are hardly found in the country’s waters now.

“If this trend continues, the marine areas are likely to be
turned into an almost barren zone for fish within 10 years or so.
So, immediate measures are required for effective fisheries
management,” he said adding that the Gulf of Thailand had lost
all its fish in the space of just 40 years.

Prof Chowdhury said Bangladesh may focus on producing highly
skilled maritime human resources, including marine engineers,
navigators and in other highly technical trades, targeting the
international employment market to boost remittances.

Besides, a lot of foreign currency goes outside the country
against container transports as more than 90 percent carriers used
in this sector are owned by foreign companies.

Prof Chowdhury said the sheer size of the fishing fleet
consisting of more than 50,000 boats and some 270 industrial
trawlers, is possibly contributing to the long-term overfishing in
Bangladeshi waters.

He said Bangladesh should concentrate more on tapping marine
fish as there is a better potential of sustained supply of fish, if
managed properly, than that of other mineral resources—petroleum
and non-petroleum ones—in the Bay of Bengal, which will
eventually dry up no matter how carefully we extract those
resources.

Dr Kawser Ahmed, a professor at the Oceanography Department of
Dhaka University, said Bangladesh is yet to fix the level of
maximum sustainable yield (MSY) of marine fisheries resources.

“We need proper coastal and ocean governance for the
sustainability of marine resources,” he said adding that
overfishing is dangerous for the sustainability of marine fisheries
as the fish productivity is comparatively low in the northern Bay
of Bengal. The coast is also being used indiscriminately, he
added.

Mentioning that there are now 16-18 ministries related to the
blue economy, he said Bangladesh needs to form a separate ocean or
marine resources ministry and bring all wings and cells of the
ministries under it for unlocking the potential of the blue
economy.

Prof Kawser emphasised procurement of an oil-gas survey vessel
to explore hydrocarbon deposits in the Bay of Bengal saying that it
will be cost effective alongside helping create skilled manpower by
facilitating students to conduct research in this area.

Fisheries and Livestock Secretary Md Raisul Alam Mondal said
they have taken various initiatives to enhance harvesting fisheries
in a sustainable way for implementing the government’s plan.

The initiatives include installation of effective communication
tools to communicate with sea fishing vessels, ensuring fishing
monitoring system and purchasing longline fishing boats and purse
seine fishing boats for enhancing the harvesting capacity of the
private sector.

Purse-seine fishing in open water is generally considered to be
an efficient form of fishing. It has no contact with the seabed and
can have low levels of bycatch (accidental catch of unwanted
species).

The secretary said the contribution of marine fish in the
country’s total fish production is now around 9-10 percent, which
needs to be increased.

The survey vessel, purchased from Malaysia, in its 16 cruises so
far detected 300-350 fish species in the Bay of Bengal. But more
time is needed to get a complete picture of the stock of marine
fisheries resources there, he said.

Secretary Mondal said it is important to know the breeding
period of each fish species for the sake of sustainable fishing in
the sea. Now the government keeps fishing banned for 65 specific
days every year in Bangladesh’s exclusive economic zone in the
Bay of Bengal.

Bangladesh won a total of 131,098 square kilometers of sea areas
–111,631sq km against Myanmar in 2012 and 19,467sq km against
India in 2014 — following the disposal of longstanding disputes
with the two neighbouring countries — India and Myanmar — by
two international courts.

The post
Bangladesh Needs Intensive Surveys to Gauge Potential of Its
‘Blue Economy’
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This report is produced by UNB
United News of Bangladesh
and IPS Inter Press Service.

The post
Bangladesh Needs Intensive Surveys to Gauge Potential of Its
‘Blue Economy’
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Bangladesh Needs Intensive Surveys to Gauge Potential of Its ‘Blue Economy’