With a government initiative, businesses are preparing themselves for sustainable deep sea fishing in the Bay of Bengal. Started in mid-2014 this drive has seen successful conversion of all suitable bottom trawlers to mid-water.
‘Out of 115 bottom trawlers 66 were converted to Mid-water ones till date,’ Director of Department of Fisheries’ (DoF) Marine wing Nasiruddin Md. Humayun said to Daily Sun. Currently Bangladesh has total 246 fishing trawlers.
‘The rest got permission from the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MoFL) to operate as bottom trawler as they did not have superstructure suitable for converting into mid-water trawlers,’ said the top official of country’s marine fisheries.
He said, once their current structure get too old to operate, they will not be permitted for renovation, thus ending the era of bottom trawler in Bangladesh’s Exclusive Economic Zone in the Bay of Bengal.
In bottom-trawling method the vessel drags trawl-nets across the sea floor to scoop up fish– stirs up the sediment and all life forms lying on the seabed– wipes out everything. It is regarded as one of the most unsustainable fishing methods and termed as ‘bulldozers of the sea’, said to be responsible for fish stock decline.
Mid-water trawling is regarded as the lesser evil as it does not contact the sea bed.
Following a meeting on 20 April 2014 chaired by Muhammed Sayedul Hoque, Minister Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock an administrative order for conversion of all bottom trawlers to mid-water was issued on 27 April 2014. Trawlers in Bangladesh fish in areas from 40 meter depth range to far deep sea. Statistics from DoF show that these 246 trawlers last year contributed 14.4% of total marine catch, 84846 metric tons of fish.
These wooden bottom trawlers will not be permitted for renovation.
Photo: Mohammad Arju
But major share of the marine catch comes from mechanized and non-mechanized boats, which last year accounted for 515000 metric tons, 85.86% of total marine catch. Estimate by DoF limits the number of fishing boats within 68,000.
For the trawlers, ‘strong Monitoring, Control and Surveillance system is in place involving Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Coast Guard and Marine Fisheries Office by spot check in port and off shore during fishing,’ said Mr. Humayun. ‘If any non-compliance is noticed the concerned trawlers are dealt in accordance to specific section and rules of the Marine Fisheries Ordinance and Rules made thereunder respectively,’ he added.
He said, during the last one year 05 (five) bottom trawlers were seized as being falsely claimed as mid-water trawlers.
In Bangladesh’s 1,18,000 sq. kilometers maritime area over 400 fish species are available, according to Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI), of which about 90 species are commercially important.