The Bay of Bengal has emerged as a ocean governance with the neighbouring countries vital prospect of blue economy for Bangladesh if the country takes the full advantage of its sea resources like gas, fish and shipping. Some foreign countries and companies have grabbed the opportunity as reported in media. The reasons that Bangladesh lags behind in this sector are mainly due to its lack of expertise and policy regime, the report says.
Blue economy encompasses the sum total of all economic activities associated with the oceans, seas, harbours, ports and coastal zones. It is related with sea-borne trade and commerce, resource exploration and exploitation, ocean science and observation, defense and security. Country’s two seaports are considered as the gateway to foreign trade and another Sonadia deep sea port is under consideration.
The government signed deals with many foreign companies for exploring offshore gas and oil, which were severely criticised by the experts as they want to strengthen the state-run oil and gas exploration companies.
Besides, our fishermen cannot tap the fishing opportunity in Bay of Bengal due to lack of state of the art equipment and modern sea boat. Consequently India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand avail the major share of marine fish in the Bay, according to the report. In ocean shipping sector, the country cannot still make any significant progress. Due to mismanagement and proper policy option, Bangladesh Shipping Corporation has been faltering for many years, which is now almost unable to cope with the emerging blue economy.
Sea resources must be governed on the principles of mutual trust, respect and equitable sharing of benefits and therefore, collaborative partnerships in the wider space of ocean governance with the neighbouring countries especially Mayanmar and India need to be emphasized.
Blue economy can enable big corporations and small and medium-sized businesses to achieve a level where they produce no waste or emissions, and operate in an environment-friendly yet very cost-effective way. The rapid development of small-scale aquaculture, including export-oriented prawn farming in Bangladesh, has been likened to a blue revolution that influenced the socio-economic conditions of farming households within three broad elements of peoples’ livelihoods i.e. farm-based rural livelihoods, market-based livelihoods, and multi-location nonfarm livelihoods. The sea can be a good alternative source of our foodstuff. Besides, a planned marine fish aquarium can be of great attraction for the tourists in coastal zones of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is a country of climatic vulnerability. Rising sea level and salinity intrusion in the existing farming land have posed existential threats for Bangladesh. The national oceanographic research institute can play an effective role in this regard to inquire into the science of ocean acidification and the meteorological behaviour and related aspects in the Bay of Bengal and therefore, it should be made more functional as early as possible.
Proper study of hydrography must be given priority in pursuing total benefit of blue economy including oil/gas exploration, dredging activities, offshore construction, environmental monitoring, aquaculture, mineral resources, energy, bio- medicines and oceanographic research.