UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | 29 March 2022

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What the article is about?

  • Talks about the prospects, concerns and way ahead for the Bay of Bengal region, in the light of the recent BIMSTEC summit.

Syllabus: GS-II International Relations; Regional Grouping; India and its neighbourhood relations; GS-III Sustainable Development

Bay of Bengal:

  • Potential:
    • Bay of Bengal is home to a large network of beautiful yet fragile estuaries, mangrove forests of around 15,792 square kilometres, coral reefs of around 8,471, sea grass meadows and mass nesting sites of sea turtles.
    • The Bay is an important source of natural re- sources for a coastal population of approximately 185 million people.
    • The fishermen population alone is estimated to be around 3.7 million, with an annual fish catch of around six million tonnes, constituting 7% of the world’s catch and valued at around U.S.$4 billion.
  • Challenges:
    • The annual loss of mangrove areas is estimated at 0.4% to 1.7% and coral reefs at 0.7%.
    • It is predicted that the sea level will increase 0.5 metres in the next 50 years.
    • Moreover, there have been 13 cyclonic storms in the last five years.
    • Around 4,15,000 fishing boats operate in the Bay and it is estimated that 33% of fish stocks are fished unsustainably
    • According to FAO, the Bay of Bengal is one of the illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing hotspots in Asia-Pacific.
    • The emergence of a dead zone with zero oxygen where no fish survive;
    • leaching of plastic from rivers as well as the Indian Ocean;
    • destruction of natural protection against floods such as mangroves; sea erosion;
    • growing population pressure and industrial growth in the coastal areas and consequently, huge quantities of untreated waste flow.
    • Security threats such as terrorism, piracy and tensions between countries caused by the arrests of fishermen 

Way Ahead:

  • Tapping the opportunities requires coordinated and concerted action by governments, scientists and other experts.
  • The BIMSTEC Summit must create a new regional mechanism for coordinated activities on maritime issues of a transboundary nature.
  • Measures to strengthen fisheries management, promote sustainable fishing methods, establish protected areas and develop frameworks to prevent and manage pollution, especially industrial and agricultural waste as well as oil spills.
  • There is also a need for greater scientific research on the impact of climate change in general and on fisheries in particular.


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