Dhaka 5th August 2013: Bangladesh Fish Workers’ Alliance (BFWA) who works on the interest of small fish workers in Bangladesh expresses its concern on the government’s decision of giving license to the fishing trawlers for fishing in the deep Bay of Bengal. Today in a press conference at the National Press Club in Dhaka they express this concern along with five fisher folk and coastal-based NGOs namely COAST, CODEC, PASS, SAD-BD,
and Udayan. World Forum for Fish Harvesters and Fish Workers (WFF) expresses solidarity with this press conference being involved in the same cause.
They say that giving new trawler license without any survey on the fish resource in the Bay of Bengal is inappropriate. They also urge the government to take into account the interest of small fisher folk while giving new trawler licenses. Sanat Kumar Bhowmik of BFWA moderates the press conference and Sheikh Asad of Udayan from Bagerhat reads out the position paper. The other speakers of the press conference are Shawkat Ali Tutul and Mustafa Kamal Akanda of COAST Trust.
On behalf of the group while reading the position paper Sheikh Asad says that livelihood of around 20 million of coastal fisher folk in Bangladesh is being jeopardized due to the climate change impact. On top of it the new fish trawlers’ license will make the situation more complicated as these trawlers also do fishing within the forty meters deep areas of the Bay of Bengal. Though this is illegal there are no effective monitoring system protect them.
It is also mentioned in the press conference that present ruling party Awami League in their previous tenure declared that they would not give any license to the fishing trawlers without any survey on the fish resource in the Bay of Bengal. The group says that the licenses are being issued with the party interest and not based on any scientific analysis. At present there are 299 Trawlers exploiting fish resource in the Bay of Bengal.
Sanat Kumar Bhowmik of BFWA says that, the long liner trawlers use bottom trolley net, which is a dangerous technique of over fishing. They even catch fish fry and all the small fish from the sea. There are more than 43 thousand mechanized boats where work the small fisher folk and do fishing within 40 meters depth. But most of the time this fishing area is trespassed by those trawlers who grab the earnings of the small fishers. There should be strong monitoring from different agencies of government in this regard.
Shawkat Ali Tutul of COAST Trust says that by giving the trawler licenses, in fact, the government is promoting the interest of rich people over the natural resources in the Bay of Bengal, which is a public property. Rather the government should have taken into account the life and livelihood of the small and poor fisher folk of the coastal area first.