The marine research vessel, Dr Fridtjof Nansen, will dock at Chittagong next week to survey fish stocks, biodiversity and the amount of micro plastics in the Bay of Bengal, said officials of the fisheries ministry.
The two-week long survey will start from August 2 in the exclusive economic zone in the Bay of Bengal, said Md Towfiqul Arif, joint secretary (blue economy) of the ministry.
The second such survey under the Nansen programme in Bangladesh will help gather information on the current stock of fish and other aquatic resources which are feared to be overexploited.
It will also establish the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), the highest level at which a natural resource can be routinely used without long-term depletion, said Md Sharif Uddin, the national project director of Bangladesh Marine Fisheries Capacity Building Project (BMFCBP) under the Department of Fisheries (DoF).
The survey will assess availability of pelagic, mesopelagic and bottom fish up to 1000-metre depth, for which Bangladesh's marine research vessel Meen Shandhani is not equipped, said Sharif.
“This is also going to be a big training [opportunity] as 15 Bangladeshi scientists are going to be on the voyage,” he added.
On Bangladesh's own marine research vessel, Sharif said, “We can assess fish stock up to 200-metre depth using Meen Shandhani.”
The Nansen vessel is coming to Bangladesh under an agreement made between the Bangladesh government and UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) on March 28.
Housing seven different laboratories packed with high tech equipment, the vessel, owned by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, is jointly operated by the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research and the FAO.
“The work of the research vessel Dr Fridtjof Nansen is an important part of the FAO's support to member countries. It provides vital information for the management of marine resources in FAO member countries. In many countries, the Nansen surveys offer the only credible source of fishery-independent data for assessment,” the FAO said in a statement.
The Dr Fridtjof Nansen vessel is the only marine research ship in the world that flies the UN flag, said the FAO in a statement, after signing the agreement with Economic Relations Division (ERD) this year.
The UN agency said the objective of the surveys were to assist developing countries in assembling scientific data critical to sustainable fisheries management and study how a changing climate is affecting our oceans.
A Nansen research vessel last came to Bangladeshi waters in 1979-80 to survey marine resources.
Sharif said the ship will leave Bangladesh on August 19 for Myanmar after completing the survey in Bangladesh.
The DoF began to carry out its own survey in the Bay of Bengal through the research vessel Meen Sandhani from November 2016, nearly three decades after the last research vessel went out of order in 1989.
Apart from thousands of mechanised and non-mechanised fishing boats in Bangladesh's marine waters, nearly 250 other industrial fishing trawlers also ply the 40-metre deep sea.
The government also recently gave permission for vessels to catch tuna and pelagic fish beyond the 200-metre depth.
Meanwhile, Sharif said a preliminary assessment report by Meen Sandhani would be done by December this year.
Through 16 trips, the Meen Sandhani has detected presence of 349 species of fish, including 23 types of shrimp, 16 types of crabs and 12 types of mollusk in the Bay of Bengal.
Marine catches accounted for 15 percent of the total fish production at 41.34 lakh tonnes in fiscal 2016-17, according to DoF.