Exploitation of Bangladesh’s marine resources may result in loss of bio-diversity and exclusion of coastal communities unless issues of rights and environment are addressed, a panel of inter-state civic groups has warned.
The ‘Independent People’s Tribunal on Implications of the Blue Economy in Bangladesh’held virtually on Monday called the government to make a thorough impact assessment on projects relating to the ‘Blue Economy’in order to protectthe marine ecology and rights of the communities.
“If Bangladesh implements the Blue Economy properly, it may be huge benefits to the coastal communities,” said A Gandimathi while presenting a study on “The Blue Economy in Bangladesh: Exploring the Socio-Economic Political and Ecological Implications on the Coastal Communities”.
She, however, expressed apprehensions that the people living in the coastal belt may be evicted or lose their livelihoods in case projects for exploiting the blue economy are undertaken without taking into account their common interests and urgency of protecting marine biodiversity.
Although the blue economy is being projected as a model of sustainable economic growth, the Tribunal termed it as an extension of the ‘neoliberal’policies that are likely to be implemented in South and Southeast Asia, according to a media release issued on Tuesday.
The board of jury at the session recommended that coastal stakeholders should be involved in the decision-making process. It added that nature, not profiteering, should be given priority and coastal resources and jobs of the communities need to be protected.
The jury board included Food Sovereignty Advocate from India Dr. Vandana Shiva, Former UN Rapporteur, India Anand Grover, Executive Director at Abika Uhaki Foundation, Kenya, Ezar Mbogiri, and Member-EC at Nari pokko Ms. Sheerin Parvin Huq. Ms. Jesu Rethinam, Director at SNEHA, India, described the objectives of the tribunal.
Md. Mamunul Haque, a resident of Moheshkhali, Cox’s Bazar, who lives near a Special Economic Zone, said the local labourers should be hired on a priority basis for jobs at the zone. “The government should arrange shelters for the displaced people due to the project,” he told the tribunal.
A deep-sea fish worker from Cox’s Bazar Md Abdul Halim regretted that small-scale fishers are already losing business to big players. Dry fish worker Md. Aman Ullah referring to declining working opportunities in dry fish sector, urged the government to provide training on organic dry fish production.
A resident of Cox’s Bazar town Asif Ud Doula said tourism business is increasingly being captured by bigger players from outside.
General Secretary of World Forum of Fisherfolk People Ms Nadine Nembhard, International Planning Committee for Fisheries Working Group and WFFP (South Africa)Mr. Naseegh (single name), Executive Director of COAST (Bangladesh) Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Chairperson at National Fisherfolk Forum (India) Narendra Patil joined the discussion moderated by MJ Vijayan, General Secretary of Pakistan India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (India), and Sanat Kumar Bhowmik, Deputy Executive Director at COAST (Bangladesh).