Despite several initiatives to tap into the blue economy, lack of authentic secondary data and overfishing mean that none of the plans have seen light, speakers said at a virtual webinar on Thursday.
Emphasising on the need for sustainable fishing management, speakers at the webinar titled "Blue economy: Realising the potential of marine fishing sector", also said Bangladesh needs a marine special plan and proper research survey vessel to boost the blue economy.
At the event organised by Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), chief guest Planning Minister MA Mannan said the potential of the blue economy in Bangladesh remained underutilised because of lack of technical and financial support.
Stressing on the need for technological support by the ministry concerned and investors, Mannan said for the sector to flourish, the focus should be on investment and to help investors with data so they can get a return.
The blue economy is not only for fish or mineral resources, but it is related to all ocean-based industries and it can change the economic picture of Bangladesh. For this, proper planning and execution is needed, he added.
In a PowerPoint presentation, it was said that Bangladesh had sovereign rights over almost 118,813sq kilometres in the Bay of Bengal.
Marine fishing comprised 15% of national fishing production. For the industrial side, there were 37 shrimp trawlers and 218 fish trawlers. Furthermore, there were 32,859 mechanised boats, 34,810 non-mechanised boats.
Of the total 6.71 lakh metric tonnes of marine catch, 17% came from industrial fishing and 83% were artisanal. The fisheries sector contributed 3.50% to the national gross domestic product.
The programme, presided over by Mahbubul Alam, president of CCCI, was also addressed by KH Mahbubul Hoque, additional director general and project director, Sustainable Coastal & Marine Fisheries Project, Department of Fisheries.
He said the ministry had already given permission regarding the marine and industrial fisheries plans.
In this fiscal year, the country will register 10,000 fishing boats and buy three special vessels for the tuna fish, he added.
Vice-Admiral (Rtd) Zahir Uddin Ahmed, first VP, Bangladesh Marine Fisheries Academy, Enam Chowdhury, managing director, Alliance Deep Sea Fishing Ltd, and Dr M Shah Newaz Chowdhury, associate professor, Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Chittagong, among others also, addressed the session.
The Business Standard and Banik Barta were the media partners of the event.