The government needs to create a comprehensive maritime policy, experts at a roundtable at the The Daily Star Centre said yesterday.
This is especially crucial in the face of climate change, said Dr Lailufar Yasmin, professor of International Relations at University of Dhaka.
“The rate of heat absorption by the ocean is rising in a menacing manner. Among all the seas, Bay of Bengal is more at risk because it does not have connection with the Arctic ocean which is the coldest,” she added. “Right now, havens for fishing are turning into dead zones.”
Maritime policy does not simply mean a maritime security policy, it means managing ocean resources too, said attendants.
The discussion titled “Bangladesh: Our Maritime Future” was organised by Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies.
“We need to come out of a state-centred policy and think of coastal communities,” opined Dr Niloy Ranjan Biswas, associate professor of International Relations at DU.
“The centre makes its storyline in favour of the state’s interest. We need to hear from the society too. For example, climate change is important to them,” he added.
Seas and oceans are used by developed nations as tools for defence expansion, said Rear Admiral AMS Awal. “But least developed countries like Bangladesh have to use the sea for access to marine resources,” he stated.
“We have the potential to contribute to the blue economy,” stated Rear Admiral Awal.
“Blue economy” refers to the use of marine resources in a sustainable way, for economic growth.
“Our fish exports are declining. Our shrimp is polluting and damaging the coastal area,” he added.
Blue economy should be a part of the sustainable development growth targets of Bangladesh, said Rear Admiral M Khaled Iqbal.
“We need to go into deep sea fishing. We have huge unexploited resources in the sea,” he added.
Speakers also said that the ship-breaking sector needs to be made environment-friendly.
BIPSS President Maj Gen ANM Muniruzzaman (retd) moderated the event.