Gear up technologies to maintain ocean governance in Bay of Bengal

Published : 01 Jan 2024 04:16 PM

The wor­ld’s oce­ans and seas are the major sources of both limited and endless resources. These resources have covered over two-third of the earth surface.

They provide food and minerals and generate oxygen for the living things, absorb greenhouse gases, help check global warming, determine weather patterns and work as cheap-cost routes for maritime trade.

We all know many mega cities and the hubs of trade and commerce have been established on the seashores since the beginning of human civilisation aiming to utilise the advantages of maritime routes.

In the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)-14, the United Nations has informed that more than 3 billion people directly depend on oceans worldwide for their livelihoods, while the value of the global ocean-based economy is estimated to be around US Dollar 3-6 trillion per year.

Therefore, the government has been taking required measures to leverage the potentials of the blue economy to further expedite the country's development. In this regard, the government has already announced the blue economy policy giving importance on marine resources so that Bangladesh can make its economy more vibrant, stronger and solid using the marine resources. And the government is taking various measures to this end.

The government and other stakeholder will have to give more attention to nurture various areas of blue economy. 

Therefore, the government will have to take all-out move to discover the potential of Bay of Bengal in a planned and scientific way. The bay is bordered by Sri Lanka and India to the west, Bangladesh to the north, and Myanmar and the northern part of the Malay Peninsula to the east.  Bangladesh is relatively behind compared to the developed nations on achieving the success of using the ocean at full course. Oceans and seas contribute to reducing poverty by providing utmost necessities of life, such as foods, minerals and, helps us to have a stable economy & control the weather patterns as well as climates. In fact, the oceans and seas are working as chain factories in the world.

With the best use of the oceans, many explorers gained fame and money. As time goes by, the mechanism of using the oceans has enlarged. With proper scientific research and technological implication, oceans can be explored not only in the shipping industry, but also in discovering new minerals, more fishing sector development, and many more unknown discoveries. Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CSMP) is still a vague term in the research sector. The term CMSP refers to the best uses of ocean, whether it’s for fishing or marine scientific technology or marine scientific research and development. 

As Bangladesh is a party to the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982, we can simply take initiatives to regulate the ocean governances with technological terms which have been mentioned in the provisions. Part XIII and XVI of UNCLOS discusses the Marine Scientific Research, and Development, and Transfer of Marine Technology which directly relates to the segment of Modern Technologies application in the Bay of Bengal. According to UNCLOS, every state has the right to participate in marine scientific research in order to enhance the best uses of the ocean and bring out the potential and sustainable opportunities. 

The coastal state can permit any state or any organization who intends to take part in research or develop marine technology. Since Bangladesh is still a developing nation and does not have expensive, updated, and modern equipment, the government can discuss with the experts in this field and bring any agreement with regional or international organizations to discover the field to research.

Also, most of the fishing boats are made of single hull which is very risky as well as not permitted. To explore and catch fish the fishermen have to travel into deep sea with such risk. It is to be observed by proper authority that such boats are restructured into double hull boats and proper communication equipment to be installed. Sand extraction is also becoming a huge issue which is being hardly pointed out. This is increasing the risk of coastline erosion. Along with that, because of not having any proper coast guard and lack of their conversation, illegal fishing by other nations has become a very common crime at the sea.

Not just the area of fishing or with the implication of advanced technological features tourism, scientific research, shipping, trade, commerce, water resources management, and even defense and law enforcement management of our country can be advanced. Yet, a proper systematic approach is needed. A proper pre-preplan, generalized institution, financial support, existing factors, analyzing the future condition, stakeholders’ participation, evaluating their proper participation, and finally adapting the management process is necessary.

To imply the CMSP, the conduct of all marine scientific research should be exclusively for peaceful purposes and should not interfere with other legitimate use of sea. Such activities shall not include any explosives or harmful substances and shall definitely comply with the international standard of legitimate use of sea. 

The objective for conducting the development and transfer of marine technology the state or international organizations shall focus on promoting the acquisition, evaluation and dissemination of marine technological knowledge, facilitates its transfer and make sure to give proper training and education to the developing nations, and encourage the international cooperation whether it’s regional or sub-regional or bilateral.

For the implication of the CMSP, ‘Blue Economy’ concept is to be mastered in Bangladesh. The term is already influencing the Government of Bangladesh to gear up the utmost needs in order to dive into the work to implement proper regulations. Blue economy is important to all coastal states which have developed an interest in the sustainable maritime sector. The use of the ocean has increased, so have the conflicts and stresses over the resources. It is seen that the countries which are using the oceans mostly like to develop their economies faster. CMSP is a supreme tool for guiding the policies for ocean governance. It is an extremely workable and effective function of the policy on the sustainable use of oceans without damaging and with a plan of reducing damages to our ecosystem.

CMSP benefits on economy, ecology, society, and oceanic using systems. It is highly recommended to solve issues among ocean users whether it’s between countries, or fishermen who are using the ocean to earn livelihood. At present there is not enough legal framework implemented for implying the CMSP, which is very urgent. Proper monitoring and adapting regulation based on that is necessary. Since 1/5th of our population is actually dependent on the ocean economy according to the World Bank Group, 2018, a proper framework is needed as early as possible. For the implication of the policies and regulating frameworks, the most important things to be considered are; biological diversity conservation, marine planning on regional sites, exploration & exploitation of marine non-living resources, maintenance of marine ecosystem, tourism, and other protected areas, and proper maritime safety and security. 

An expert and well integration and coordination is necessary for advancing the CMSP in our country. Only the existence of laws & rules won’t make any difference if there is no facility of providing such regulations. An authorized body which shall be solely established for the purpose of implementation of CMSP is needed. People who are experts in those fields shall only be appointed under the proper authorization of the Government. It is to be borne in mind that, all such experts and implementation must be technically effective and useful, and the experts who may be appointed, must be specialized technically and have done proper scientific research before and on continuation of their work. 

Sheikh Mehbuba Moitree is a final year student of LL.B (Honours) in Maritime Law & Policy of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman 

Maritime University