Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin today said a 'National Conservation Strategy and Plan of Action for Sharks and Rays in Bangladesh and CITES Non-detriment Findings' have been developed to protect endangered sharks and rays from extinction.
"This action plan will play an important role in controlling the cross-border trade of sharks and rays, ensuring sustainable and productive fishery livelihoods for the coastal community and improving the marine ecosystem," he said.
The environment minister made the remarks while speaking as the chief guest at a national consultation meeting organised by the Forest Department at Hotel Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden.
He said the action plan, formulated with the technical assistance of the Wildlife Conservation Society, funded by the Sustainable Forest and Livelihood (SUFAL) project, would serve as a guide for government agencies, local communities, NGOs, research institutes and private enterprises.
Shahab Uddin said more than 100 species of sharks and rays under the threat of extinction.
"It is very important for maintaining the healthy environment of our coastal and marine ecosystems," he said, adding that excessive catching should be checked to protect sharks and rays from extinction forever.
"That is why all concerned should work together without delay so that marine ecosystems and biodiversity can make a significant contribution to our livelihood and national economy," the minister said.
Shahab Uddin said the two declared marine protected areas namely the Swatch of No Ground Marine Protected Area covering1738 sq km and St Martin Marine Protected Area covering 1743 sq km will play an important role in conserving sharks and rays.
All species of sharks and rays that are at high risk of extinction are strictly protected under our Wildlife (Conservation and Security) Act, 2012, he said.
"Urgent steps need to be taken to conserve these species in collaboration with all law enforcement agencies," he added.
Shahab Uddin said Bangladesh's efforts in research, policy formulation and protection of their important habitats related to Shark and Ray fish have received international recognition and support.
Environment, Forest and Climate Change Secretary Dr Farhina Ahmed presided over the meeting.
Additional Secretary (Administration) Iqbal Abdullah Harun, Chief Conservator of Forests Md Amir Hossain Chowdhury, Director General, Department of Fisheries Khandaker Mahbubul Haque and Project Director (PD) of SUFAL project Gobinda Roy were present as special guests.
Elisabeth Fahrni Mansur, senior manager Marine Conservation Programme, Wildlife Conservation Society, Bangladesh, presented a keynote paper.