Making a blueprint for blue economy

The national fisheries week has just been observed with an urge to further develop pisciculture in the country. This is an annual ritual organised by the fisheries department to showcase the development in the sector and to re-stress the need to grow more fish to meet our growing demand as well as to enhance its export capability. Besides, the observance of the fisheries week is also intended to refresh our thoughts on the nutritional value of fish.

Pisciculture is very important for us. With our land being blessed with innumerable rivers and water bodies, undoubtedly there is an abundance of potentials to harness aquatic resources including fishes. More so, fish has all along been an integral part of our culture and food habit. In all those count, any engagement to sustain and develop pisciculture obviously merits utmost importance.

With Bangladesh gaining grip on a vast tract of the Bay of Bengal in recent years, the scale of potentials to seek marine resources from the waters of the Bay has also increased manifold. The gain will only have its worth once we are able to tap the resources whether minerals or fishes or any other marine biological ingredients. This would demand enormous amount of technological as well as financial investments and truly, we are yet to see any tangible attempt in this regard. As the Prime Minister herself feared while inaugurating the Fisheries Week 2016, we may lose the opportunities of harnessing marine resources in the Bay of Bengal within five years if we fail to cultivate it duly.

Inland as well, there lies the fear of losing the potentials. The once upon a time extensive haors in many parts of the country are reported to be drying off due to several factors like human settlement, industrialisation etc. It is said that the Tanguar haor in Sunamganj can alone feed the entire fish needs of the country. Unfortunately, the haor along with many others have dwindled down to small lakes or water bodies with several fish species already lost. Not much attention was ever given to sustain and develop the haors.

Over the years, pisciculture has developed much in the private sector with several fish farming engagements across the country. Thankfully, these initiatives have helped in maintaining a steady fish supply in the market. However, these small or medium scale initiatives need to be given due technical and financial support so as to let them grow further and sustain.

There has been a remarkable progress in shrimp culture and that it became a high valued export item. However, there are fears of losing the international market due to reported mischief in weight and quality. Moreover, uncontrolled shrimp farming has also done colossal damages to ecology in the south western region of the country.

While blue economy potentials are huge for us, it is imperative that an appropriate and time befitting strategy is blueprinted right now to bring the due worth. As it is seen in Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and many other countries, blue economy plays a significant role in national development. All of them have a well knit and focused strategy. It is time we should have one. After all, blue economy can be an effective driver for sustainable development provided it is geared with ecological, economic and social considerations.

(The writer is a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) consultant & a national TV/Radio broadcaster.