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19 April, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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blue economy of Bangladesh

French companies ready to help develop potentials

SHAHED SIDDIQUE back from Paris
French companies ready to 
help develop potentials

With Bangladesh still lagging behind in tapping the potential of the blue economy, France-based companies have shown interest in developing a holistic system for Bangladesh to make use of the blue economic potential. CLS, a specialist company in developing tracking systems, wants to map the fisheries resources and deploy a monitoring and tracking network for over 68,000 small and medium fishing trawlers in the country.

The French company is a subsidiary of the French space agency CNES. For over 30 years, CLS has been supporting select, sustainable and responsible fisheries management. It recently showed interest in developing a comprehensive solution for Bangladesh, which it considers to be one of the richest countries in the world in terms of aquatic resources, especially after the country got an expanded area in the Bay of Bengal after the settlement of maritime dispute.

Bangladesh settled its maritime boundary disputes with Myanmar in 2012 and with India in 2014 through arbitration. It is estimated that Bangladesh has acquired 118,813 square km in the Bay of Bengal. The areas of resources include 200 nautical miles of exclusive economic zone and over 354 nautical miles of resources on seabed (continental shelf).

It is estimated that Bangladesh’s marine resources constitute 81 per cent of it land resources. Experts believe within the jurisdiction of Bangladesh, the sea is endowed with immense and precious natural resources, living and non-living. Experts say that fish alone has 500 varieties besides snails, shell-fish, crabs, sharks, octopuses and other animals.

Bangladesh is estimated to catch only 0.70 million tons of fish every year out of the total of 8 million tons of fish available in the Bay of Bengal.

The World Bank in last October approved a $240 million Sustainable Coastal and Marine Fisheries Project, which it thought would help improve fisheries management, expand marine-culture and strengthen aquaculture bio-security and productivity.

Hasan Mahmud, Project Director of Sustainable Coastal and Marine Fisheries Project told The Independent recently that “the project implementation will start within this year and that would

be one of the important project for fisherman, fish stock and blue economy as well”. “We know our fishermen don’t have any device to protect themselves from natural incidents and any other attack. One the other hand, we don’t know how much fish stock there is in the Bay of

Bengal. If we implement the project, we will be able to get a clear picture and to protect our fishermen,” the project director added.

“We hope to start fully by 2020 and for that we are developing a policy,” said Ahmed, adding that they would welcome the CLS initiative.

 Sources said the fisheries department was finalizing the draft of a project profile to get World Bank’s approval.

A World Bank study said that the ocean contributes more than billions Dollar annually to the Bangladesh economy and has the potential to generate more income. At present, boats and trawlers are only able to reach as far as 70 km of the 660 km distance freely available for fishing, leaving more than 80 per cent of the total waters unexplored. Fish beyond 100 m depth are also not being harvested.

France-based CLS has found that there is no data on stock assessment. Also, there is no data available on the entry of illegal fishing vessels and poaching inside the exclusive economic zone of Bangladesh.

 CLS experts say that to protect Bangladesh’s fisheries resources, the country must track fishing vessels and the catches, and the company can provide solutions for both.

 Talking to the The Independent, Phillippe Roques, Chief Digital and Operations officer of CLS, said they were very interested in developing tracking solutions for the fishing trawlers of Bangladesh.

The Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) developed by the CLS is the most modern and isequipped with the state-of-the-art technology, said Roques. Its installation in registered fishing trawlers and ships would help monitor their movement and protect marine resources, he added.

He said their VMS devices were designed for small vessel needs and were equipped with SOS safety alert and weather alerts. They are also solar-powered.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh has not finalized any plan for blue economy. Only a small administrative cell, Blue Economy Cell (BEC), was created in January 2017 under the Energy and Mineral Resources Division of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, according to official sources.

Golam Shafiq Uddin, Chief of BEC, told the Independent, “We have failed to plan for our blue economy for the last seven years, although we got an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Bay of Bengal. We have not been able to approve any format to legalize the blue economy cell.”

 But he said the blue economy had a great prospect for Bangladesh and countries like France were keen to extend their help to develop the potentials. For the last few years, the government has been trying to procure two research vessels to assess the fish and other potential of the countries exclusive economic zone in the Bay of Bengal.

Frederic MONCANY de SAINT-AIGNAN, president of the France Maritime Cluster, an association of 430 companies involved in marine business in France, told reporters last month in Paris that “the management of blue economy is important as the sea is rising, illegal and over fishing are a threat to the sea. But we have a plan to keep the fish stock intact and we have achieved that.” In reply to a question he said, “If Bangladesh needs any help to develop the blue economy, we are ready to share our experience in this regard.”

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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