Experts from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand, through the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (BOBLME) Project, underlined the importance on a coordinated programme to improve the lives of the coastal populations by improved regional management of the Bay of Bengal environment and its fisheries.
The observations came at a two day international workshop titled “ Regional Workshop on Integrated Coastal Management in the Bay of Bengal Countries,” jointly organized by IUCN and BOBLME in Cox’s Bazar on December 5 and 6.
The workshop brought together almost 60 international experts from government agencies, research institutions, NGOs and media from the eight countries. The aim of the workshop was for eight countries connected by one ecosystem to work together to secure its future ’by harnessing and strengthening relationships between countries to address integrated coastal and community based management’explained by Mr Dominique Fernard Burgeon, Bangladesh representative, FAO and Dr Rudolf Hermes, Chief Technical Advisor, BOBLME Project.
ICM refers to the management strategy for coastal areas based on well thought out plans that are future orientated and include all sectors of society.
With an area of 6.2 million km₂ the Bay of Bengal is crucial for more than 400 million people who are dependent on the coastal and marine resources for their food, livelihood and security.
Emphasing the importance of fisheries to Bangladesh, a representative from the Department of Fisheries revealed that fisheries represent 3.7% of our national GDP, directly affect 10-15% of our population provide 60% protein to our diets.
Man structures such as ports and harbours, destructive fishing practices including over-exploitation of fish stocks, unacceptable tourism practices and lack of pollution control are however resulting in the livelihoods of coastal fishing communities being seriously threatened.
Neglecting the coast and our fisheries will not only impact the fisherman and local communities but will adversely affect the economies and livelihoods of the eight BoB countries explained Dr Hermes.
The two day workshop concluded with recommendations from experts such as community-based resource management for sustainable livelihoods, empowering fishing communities and initiating coordinated approaches between multi-sectoral stakeholders.