A separate policy for marine fishing has been introduced in Bangladesh for the first time aiming to ensure proper management in the sector and promote mariculture.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock framed the policy.
Alongside the policy, the ministry is also going to formulate ‘Marine Fisheries Rules, 2022’ in order to prevent illegal marine fishing activities in waters under the jurisdiction of Bangladesh Fisheries water and to boost the mariculture.
Md. Hamidur Rahman, joint secretary at Blue Economy Wing of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock; on Friday told Bangladesh Post that they have already prepared a draft of the ‘Marine Fisheries Rules, 2022’ as per the Article 62 of the Marine Fisheries Act, 2020.
“We have taken public opinion and opinions from the stakeholders on the draft Rules. We sent the draft Rules to the law ministry for its vetting. After the procedure, the Marine Fisheries Rules, 2022 will come into effect,” said Md. Hamidur Rahman.
After formulation of the Rules, a 65-day ban on marine fishing by vessels will remain in effect from May 20 till July 23 every year. The government every year will also impose a ban on fishing hilsa in sanctuaries to protect premature hilsa.
The Rules contain provisions against all the illegal fishing activities conducted by local or foreign vessels in waters under the jurisdiction of Bangladesh Fisheries water without the permission of the government.
Talking to Bangladesh Post, Md. Hamidur Rahman of the Fisheries and Livestock Ministry also informed that the ministry has already finalised the policy for marine fishing and a notification in this regard has already been issued from the ministry.
The government framed the policy for marine fishing also to conserve the marine resources through preventing overfishing as the marine resources in the sea are being slowly depleted.
KH Mahbubul Haque, director general of the Department of Fisheries (DoF) said that the separate policy for marine fishing would play a vital role to increase production through mariculture and to encourage foreign investment in joint ventures in this regard.
The new policy has been framed in line with international obligations. Before framing the policy, fishing in the sea was allowed as per the national fisheries policy.
Under the new policy, the government will now estimate the fish stock in the sea through surveys and introduce responsible fishing systems.
KH Mahbubul Haque said, “We also want to earn foreign currency by properly utilising the marine resources. We will apply the Rules in this regard. We will also apply the new policy to fix a maximum fishing limit for various types of fishing vessels. We will strengthen the activities of surveillance and monitoring through applying the policy.”
Under the policy, the government will now register all types of fishing vessels that are engaged in marine fishing in the sea.
Nurul Qayyum Khan, president of the Bangladesh Marine Fisheries Association hailed the government for framing such a policy. He said that the policy will be a good tool to register all the fishing vessels.
Md Monirul Islam, chairman of the Department of Fisheries at Dhaka University; also welcomed the policy as there previously were no regulations in this regard. The policy will help exploit the potential of the blue economy, he said.
The policy has been introduced at a time when the fish stock in the Bay of Bengal is being depleted for overfishing.
Bangladesh has the legal right to fish and exploit marine resources with a 118,813 square kilometre area in the Bay of Bengal, which has 475 species of fish. Of those, fishermen and industrial trawlers and vessels can catch up to 30 types of fishes with a majority comprising hilsha.
Apart from these, 35 species of shrimp are now available in the sea that provides about 15 per cent of the total annual production of fish.
A huge number of people in the coastal areas rely on marine fishing. It is the main source of income for nearly 500,000 fishermen living in coastal areas.
According to information from the Department of Fisheries (DoF), some 200 industrial trawlers, around 350 wooden trawlers and 65,000 local-made boats are now engaged in fishing the Bay of Bengal.
The newly framed policy said that fishermen mainly catch fish in coastal and continental shelf areas that account for 55 percent of Bangladesh’s marine area, leaving a large part of the sea unexplored.
According to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, there is a prospect of catching tuna beyond the 200-metre depth area of the exclusive economic zone of Bangladesh. However, tuna cannot be explored in the absence of modern technology and high-powered fishing trawlers. It is possible to earn a lot of foreign currency if tuna and other fishes in the deep sea can be explored.