Kochi: Amid rising concerns over a series of challenges, including climate change, posing threats to the fisheries sector globally, a panel of experts has proposed stronger research collaboration among the rim countries of the Bay of Bengal for the betterment of marine wealth and livelihood of small-scale fishers in the region.
Speaking at a dialogue on the development of a regional marine fisheries platform for the Bay of Bengal region, held on the sideline of the ongoing global symposium on ‘Innovations in Fishing Technologies for Sustainable and Resilient Fisheries’ here, the experts stressed the need for a long-term institutional platform to deal with the issues in the sector.
The meet called for linkages for research and development in potential areas such as stock assessment, deep sea fishing, ecosystem-based management, climate change, vulnerability and resilience, marine spatial planning, blue economy, seafood trade and quality assurance, and academic collaboration.
The region contributes about 21 per cent of global seafood production and is home to the largest conglomeration of the small-scale fisheries sector. But a range of issues such as climate change, marine pollution, over-fishing, and oil spill are plaguing the fisheries sector of the Bay of Bengal rim countries, the dialogue observed.
"Lack of adequate scientific knowledge on the region is a concern, and India’s intention is to support networking of scientific institutions between the member countries," said Rudrendra Tandon, additional secretary (BIMSTEC), Union Ministry of External Affairs. According to him, the transboundary nature of the issues in the region requires all the countries to come together and plan collaborative programmes, including knowledge sharing and student exchange.
Jatindra Nath Swain, secretary to the Department of Fisheries, said the country is committed to protecting the interest of small-scale fishers. “The Bay of Bengal region is rich with highly prospective marine wealth and offers livelihood to a huge amount of small-scale fishermen community. Collaboration among the littoral countries is vital for managing the resource and protecting the income of this community,” he said.
Senior scientists, policymakers and academicians representing India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Maldives, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand presented their views at the dialogue.
Virtual marine fisheries academy
While presenting India’s views, Dr G Sugumar, vice chancellor of Tamil Nadu Fisheries University, proposed a virtual marine fisheries academy for the Bay of Bengal region. Funded doctoral and post-doctoral programmes, multi-country research projects, and increased student exchange programmes were also mooted by him for the betterment of the fisheries sector of the region.
The dialogue was organised by the Bay of Bengal Programme- Inter-Governmental Organisation (BOBP-IGO) and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), an international non-profit organisation.
Dr J K Jena, deputy director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR); Venu Rajamony IFS; and Dr P Krishnan, director of BOBP-IGO also spoke on the occasion.