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1 June, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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Major polluters must be made accountable for Bay of Bengal

Rights groups urge government
SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, Dhaka

Rights groups have demanded that the government make major polluters of the Bay of Bengal responsible for protecting fish reserves and the natural ecosystem and exempt poor and marginalised fishermen from the 65-day fishing ban. They raised their demands at a human chain formed in front of the National Press Club on Thursday. COAST Trust and Bangladesh Fish Workers’ Alliance (BFWA) jointly organised the protest event.

Mustafa Kamal Akanda of COAST Trust moderated the programme. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, chief moderator of EquityBD and executive director of COAST Trust, BFWA general secretary Mujibul Huq Munir, Barkat Ullah Maruf of COAST Trust, Badrul Alam and Rehana Akter of Bangladesh Krishok Federation also spoke at the human chain programme.

Mujibul Huq Munir said small-scale fishermen, who catch fish in the sea with very small boats, could not possibly harm the fish reserve or the natural ecosystem of the Bay of Bengal. They should be exempted from the 65-day fishing ban, he also said, adding that the big polluters who posed the real threat to the sea and its biodiversity were hardly held accountable under the existing policy. Thirteen-point recommendations were made from the event on the issue the 65-day fishing ban that include: (1) small-scale and poor fishermen should be exempted from the ban, (2) big polluters, including oil spillers, shipyards, plastic polluters, trawlers, should be made responsible for preserving sea resources; (3) a minimum of Tk. 8,000 per fishing family should be given as compensation during the ban period; (4) foreign fishing boats and trawlers should be checked and stopped from entering the Bangladesh territory during the ban period, and (5) all fisher folks should be registered and categorised.

Mustafa Kamal Akanda of COAST Trust said it was a farce to give 40 kg rice for 65 days to a fisherman's family as compensation. He also said fisher folks of Odisha and Tamil Nadu in Indi were compensated Rs. 5,000 per month during this kind of a ban period.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said the poor fishing community was only 4 per cent responsible for the ecosystem destruction in the Bay of Bengal, yet they are the only sufferers of the fishing ban. The big polluters, including plastic polluters, shipyards, and oil spills, are hardly addressed, he added.

“The benefit of the ban will hardly serve them. We need a poor-friendly policy to deal with this kind of issues,” he said.

Around 246 big fishing boats with big nets catch fish from the Bay of Bengal and haul up everything from the sea including smallest fish, flora and fauna. They normally should be fishing in 40-metre deep areas but are taking advantage of weak monitoring to fish in shallow areas of the sea.

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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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