Time to tap the blue economy opportunity | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 28, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:50 AM, November 28, 2019

Time to tap the blue economy opportunity

Dear readers, in October this year, I went to China to participate in China International Agricultural Machinery Exhibition (CIAME) 2019, held at Qingdao in Shangdong province. I had the opportunity to visit the Ocean University that mainly teaches oceanography, aquatic ecosystem, blue economy and many other issues related to the ocean. The university has been working closely on the prospects of ‘Blue Economy’. Some Bangladeshi students are also involved in this research, which emphasises on sustainable usage of ocean resources for economic growth, while preserving the ecosystem. It is one of the most renowned universities for oceanography studies. We are facing environmental disaster backed by climate change and man-made pollution. Global warming and rise of sea level is coming along to give a higher threat to the nature and people. This is also alarming for the undiscovered resources in the sea. There are many Bangladeshi students at Ocean University who are either doing their graduation or working on their PhD. Bangladesh is now working in the sector of blue economy. I believe when these students will come back from China’s Ocean University, they would be able to contribute greatly to this wonder sector which will definitely boost up the country’s economy.

Sea is the reservoir that ensures the nutrition of China’s huge population. Apart from that, blue economy has valuable contribution to their economy. In term of discovering the sea resources they are way ahead today. In this regard, Ocean University is one of the most credible for oceanography research and it’s great to know that Bangladeshis are studying and working here so intensely. It was really great to know about their work and research.

Professor Zho Hong from the Department of Marine Ecology is researching on marine nematodes where Saifuddin, a Bangladeshi student is assisting. Nematodes are very important since it is an indicator of the sea’s environment. You can learn about the ocean’s environment by reviewing nematode’s condition. The whole world is now concerned about it. It plays a vital role in assuring favourable habitat for animal species in the sea, food and biodiversity of the ocean.

Professor Zho Hong says Bangladeshi students can well apply their research in the Bay of Bengal which will tell us more about the fruitful resources of Bay of Bengal. Professor Hong is very much concerned about the pollution in the seas and she told me that people are ruining the sea resources in the name of ‘so called’ development.

Bangladeshi students Sadia Zaman, Partha Prodip Barman and Farrukh Rahman Rumi are doing their research under the fisheries department. Their works contains great value too. That is to identify the amount of fishes in the ocean. It is called Fish Stock Assessment. Chun Liu is their professor and supervisor.

Environment and biodiversity are given highest priority in China’s economic development, says Chun Liu.

The professor said their government has passed strict laws for protecting fish species and their family. It is forbidden to catch fishes in China’s sea from May till August every year. None catches fish during this time. He showed great worry on marine fishes going extinct but praised his government’s role in preserving it. Liu believes Bangladesh has great prospect in the sea and can make use of the great resources under it. 

“What would be the output of your studies on the fishery ecosystem in the seas?” I asked a Bangladeshi student.

“Bay of Bengal is a huge ocean. There are plenty of marine species in it. Based on the knowledge acquired from research here, if I can identify the fisheries ecosystem of Bay of Bengal, then we can find a way to sustain it and utilise it for long-term purposes,” she replied.

Another Bangladeshi student is studying the biological reference points of commercially important fish species in the sea.

Bangladeshi student Sadia Zaman is researching on Kaptai Lake, one of the renowned lakes of Southeast Asia,.

“How do you see Kaptai Lake?”

“It is in very bad state right now. A month ago, I visited the fish landing station over there. All the trawlers and fishing boats mostly had Kachki fish. I couldn’t find any big fish.”

“The stocking density should be improved,” she added.

Scientific Officer of Bangladesh Fish Research Institute Golam Sajed Riyad, who is doing his PhD at this university, is researching on fish’s larvae nutrition. I had a little discussion with him.

“After a fish hatches from its egg, the nutrition it needs, the kind of organ development it needs, these are the things I am working on with Professor Liu,” says Riyad.

“I am working on a Chinese species now. It is called large yellow carp,” he adds.

“Fish has the highest mortality in larvae stage. We are doing this research to save the larvae from the sea,” says Riyad.

I went to the lab of Ching Huei. Here researches are doing research on nutrition and feed of marine fish species. I talked to the professor of Aquaculture department. He said nutrition is very important for protecting fish reproduction.  And that has to be ensured at the larvae stage.

“Our work is based on larvae’s nutrition. It is very important. If nutrition is not ensured at this stage, fish will not have a good growth,” said the professor. 

“Global warming is also harming fish larvae of the sea. Excessive pollution and rise in temperature is making the environment hostile for larvae,” he added.

“If the temperature rises to 25 to 30 degree Celsius, larvae dies. Thus, many species are getting extinct. At present, the government of China is concerned about it. Other countries must be conscious about it too. We need to keep ocean environment normal for the sake of sustainable development,” he urged.

Dear readers, blue economy promises to bring new opportunities to our country. International research on oceanography sees this possibility to be very high. Fish covers a big part of China’s animal protein demand. Different species of seaweed contributes a huge portion of China’s food and nutrition. Most of the grocery stores and super shops have seaweed for sale. The entire world is working on protecting ocean resources. Sea is in danger because of illegal netting of fish and due to other manmade reasons. Some countries are dedicated to protect the internal and external diversity of the sea. I have seen the dedication in the Netherlands. Over there, for protecting the North Sea, they have many initiatives.

Bay of Bengal is important for the economic prosperity of our country. If we don’t identify the sea resources and protect them, our future will be in danger. We hope that the Bangladeshi students at the Ocean University, will work on protecting the Bay of Bengal and discover the greater opportunities of blue economy after they return to the country. The sea will surely bring fortune for us.  

The ocean contributes more than USD 6 billion to the country’s economy annually and has the potential to generate more income, said a news report on experts’ meeting to identify areas for development early this year. Bangladesh has the right to fish and explore resources within 1,18,813 square kilometres of the Bay of Bengal. The country is yet to tap the opportunity. Steps need to be taken to explore deep sea fishing. There is the scope for marine aquaculture, which is done in several countries including China. Five years have passed since the nation won the case on maritime boundary at the International Court but we are yet to catch fish beyond the 100 metre depth of the sea. We are also yet to utilise the scope to do marine aquaculture or mariculture, which is already popular in countries like India, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and China. It is important now to ensure sustainable use of ocean and addressing the problem of pollution, and it is also necessary to make more investment.

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