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Subregional Grouping That Must Get Back on Course

Context

Leaders of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) will attend a summit meeting hosted by the chair Sri Lanka. They look to turn their aspirations into actions in the Bay of Bengal (BoB) region.

Relevance

GS-II: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Dimensions of the Article

  • About BIMSTEC
  • About Bay of Bengal Marine Dialogue (BoBMD)
  • Marine Ecosystem and Resource Potential of BoB
  • Need for regional interaction
  • Priority Area: Marine Environment
  • Addressing the issues of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU)
  • Way Forward

About BIMSTEC

  • Founded in 1997
  • 7 members – India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal
  • Summits have been full of communiqués and aspirations but no concrete action.
  • Upcoming summit is an opportunity to address the critical challenges confronting the region.

About Bay of Bengal Marine Dialogue (BoBMD)

  • Organized by Centre for humanitarian Assistance and Pathfinder
  • Participants called for stepping up efforts in the area of – environmental protection, scientific research, curtailing IUU fishing, developing protocols for cross border violations by fishermen, etc.

Marine Ecosystem and Resource Potential of BoB

  • Home to a large network of beautiful bur fragile estuaries, mangrove forests, coral reefs, sea grass meadows and mass nesting sites of turtles.
  • Annual fish catch is of around 6 Million Tonnes.
  • However, it is threatened by climate change, unsustainable fishing, emergence of dead zones, leaching of microplastics, terrorism and piracy and tensions among nations.

Need for regional interaction

  • Blue Economy potential of BoB is huge which can be tapped into by improved regional interaction.
  • Opportunities to develop maritime trade, shipping, aquaculture and tourism.
  • This is possible only with concerted efforts and coordination among the countries.
  • BIMSTEC can provide a new mechanism for transboundary interaction.
  • Limited interaction among countries is hampering sustainable utilization.

Priority Area: Marine Environment

  • Home grown solutions are needed based on capabilities of various nations to deepen their engagements.
  • Need to create regional frameworks for data collection.
  • Participatory approaches must be evolved to create a regional open fisheries data alliance.
  • BoB Programme and BoB Marine Ecosystem should get full support of BIMSTEC.

Addressing the issues of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU)

  • Equipping fishing vessels with AIS trackers.
  • Establishing a regional fishing vessel registry system.
  • Increasing monitoring, control and surveillance to prevent IUU practices.
  • Developmental and upliftment programs must be implemented for fishing.
  • Laws and policies must be harmonized for better treatment of fisherman crossing the borders.

Way Forward

BIMSTEC must arise, awake and act before its too late. Countries have the capability both in capital and human resources terms which they must invest in a planned and coordinated manner to harness the potential of BoB ecosystem. They must also address the issues related to climate change and adopt sustainable methodologies.

Source – The Hindu

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September 2022
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