A SUBREGIONAL GROUPING THAT MUST GET BACK ON COURSE
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:
- 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 sq.km, 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.
- 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
- 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.
Refer to BIMSTEC, BOBMD, BOBP, BOBLME project