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Independent People’s Tribunal on the Blue Economy in Bangladesh : Blue Economy Must Uphold the Rights of Coastal Communities

Dhaka. 30 November, 2020. An Independent People’s Tribunal on the Implications of Blue Economy in Bangladesh calls the Bangladesh government to go for impact assessment studies of Blue Economy related projects to ensure the protection of marine biodiversity and ecology and rights of the resource-dependent coastal communities. Though Blue Economy has been emerging and projected as the Sustainable Economic Growth model, the tribunal finds ‘Blue Economic models’ as the extension of the Neoliberal paradigm in South and Southeast Asia. A group of Juries of the tribunal opined this during the tribunal held virtually on 30 November 2020. Renowned international activists, global experts, and representatives from different global networks took part in the tribunal.  MJ. Vijayan, General Secretary of Pakistan India Peoples’ Forum for Peace & Democracy (PIPFPD)

(India), and Sanat Kumar Bhowmik, Deputy Executive Director, COAST (Bangladesh) moderated the tribunal.     

In the Inauguration session Ms. Nadine Nembhard, General Secretary, World Forum of Fisherfolk People (WFFP), Mr. Naseegh, Iinternational Planning Committee (IPC) for Fisheries Working Group and WFFP (South Africa), Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Director, COAST (Bangladesh), Narendra Patil, Chairperson, National Fisherfolk Forum (India) delivered their inaugural speeches. The honorable members of the Jury were Dr. Vandana Shiva, Environmental Activist, and Food Sovereignty Advocate, India. Anand Grover, Senior Advocate & Former UN Rapporteur, India, Ezar Mbogiri, Executive Director, Abika Uhaki Foundation, Kenya, Ms. Sheerin Parvin Huq, Member-EC, Naripokko, Women Rights Activist, Bangladesh took part. Then Ms. Jesu Rethinam, Director, SNEHA, India described the objectives of tribunal.  

Ms. A. Gandimathi presented the study on the blue economy titled “The Blue Economy in Bangladesh: Exploring the Socio-Economic Political and Ecological Implications on the Coastal Communities”. The study identifies three reasons  that have made the BE model a neoliberal model, these three reasons are Ecological externalities such as loss of biodiversity as an inevitable consequence of the exploitation of coastal and marine resources., Exclusion of Marine and Coastal Communities from their habitats, governance, and user rights on marine and coastal commons, and resulting in loss of livelihoods by allowing oceans and coasts as open access systems. She also told that if the Bangladesh will implement the Blue Economy appropriately then it will be huge scopes will be in place for the coastal communities.   

People of different professionals from Cox’s Bazar presented their recent situation to the tribunal. Md. Mamunul Haque, a resident of Moheshkhali living near the Special Economic Zone said, that the local laborers should be hired in the Spcial Economic Zone. The government should arrange the shelters of displaced people due to the project. A deep-sea fish worker from Cox’s Bazar Md Abdul Halim said, the small-scale fishers now are not getting fish as the big trawlers are catching most of the stock. Dry fish worker Md. Aman Ullah said, as the raw fishes are gradually reducing, it also reduces their scope of works. He urged the government to provide training on organic dry fish production. Crab farmer Md. Enaet Ullah said, due to the pandemic we cannot export the crab, it affects our livelihoods seriously. A resident of Cox’s Bazar town Asif Ud Doula said, now the tourism business has been shifted to multinational companies because of the implication of the Blue Economy. As a result, the coastal community is losing their livelihoods. Md. Shahinur Islam from COAST presented a case study of the fishing community from Moheshkhali Island. Siddharth Chakraborty and Soumya Datta, Advisory Board Member-UN Climate Technology Center & Network presented on Promotion of Culture Fishers in the Context of Blue Economy and Climate Change, Aggressive Oceanic & Coastal Development and Future of Fishers Livelihoods respectably.   

The board of Jury gave their interim observations that coastal community stakeholders should be involved in the decision-making process, keeping the harmony of nature but not profit-making rather coastal community’s interest, should not be taken away the last resources and jobs of the coastal community, thinking on globally and should not be followed the imposing of the World Bank and the IMF, protecting the resources for the survival of coastal communities during the implications of Blue Economy in the region. 

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