If the devastating effects of climate change on the marine ecosystem and coastal areas are not addressed, then the fishing communities of Bangladesh will be among the first to suffer
On Wednesday, October 20, Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) organized a webinar titled “Impact of Climate Change on the Bay of Bengal - Impact on Coastal Social-Ecological System.”
If the devastating effects of climate change on the marine ecosystem and coastal areas are not addressed, then the fishing communities of Bangladesh will be among the first to suffer, speakers said.
Experts from civil society, government officials and academicians who spoke during the webinar also included, among others, MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam, Danish Institute for Human Rights Anthropologist Sille Stidsen and Chief Guest Md. Shahab Uddin, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
Shaheen Anam, Executive Director of Manusher Jonno Foundation,
Almost 1.3 million people work in the marine fisheries sector and their human rights should be protected.We want to make sure the underprivileged get their human rights.
We conducted two studies with ULAB. One is about the impact of Covid-19 on marine fishermen and how the 65-day fishing ban impacted them.
The fisheries sector in Bangladesh is globally acclaimed. Our aim is to bring a positive change for coastal fishermen and provide a sustainable solution.
Sille Stidsen, anthropologist at the Danish Institute for Human Rights
The fishermen are usually the poorest and vulnerable people in this sector and their livelihoods need to be protected. They need ocean resources to make a living. We need to take a holistic approach. Both social and environmental concerns need to be addressed to come up with a sustainable solution when addressing climate change.
Md. Shahab Uddin, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change andthe government has taken a number of projects for the betterment of the coastal area fishing community. However, the developed nations, who are largely responsible for climate change, need to step forward and do their part for the vulnerable countries.
If we cannot prevent climate change, we will lose 2% of our GDP by 2050. Climate change is impacting the life cycle of the fish population as well. About 10% of the population of Bangladesh is involved in fishing and 60% of the animal protein inthe Bangladesh people’s diet comes from fish.
Rezaul Karim Chowdury, Executive Director of COAST Trust
Fishing communities are victims of climate change as the number of cyclones in coastal areas are increasing.There is no alternative to education in order to improve their livelihoods. The government has already decided to provide technical education in schools.
The government should start with the schools in coastal areas, because in this way the children in coastal areas will be able to find alternative livelihoods. The fisher folks do not have any other way to earn money during the 65 days’ ban period because most of them do not have any alternative livelihood.
Dr. M Niamul Naser, Chairman of Zoology Department at University of Dhaka
Fishing communities in coastal areas of Bangladesh are migrating to different places because the fish population is decreasing in the ocean. This is a major concern. In-depth research on fishing communities, the fish population and climate change is needed so that we can understand the patterns of fishing in different areas.
We need to do intensive research and work with the government to make better policies about the fishing community. Plastic pollution in the coastal areas is another problem we are dealing with. Fishes are consuming plastics and they cannot get it out of their system.Microplastics can get inside the system of a person who consumes the fish, which creates multiple health hazards for consumers.
Samiya Ahmed Selim, Associate Professor at University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) and Director of ULAB’s Centre for Sustainable Development
Bangladesh is in the seventh position among the countries which are most vulnerable to climate change. Climate change will have a negative impact in Bangladesh because many people here rely on fishing and agriculture. Fish is an important part of Bangladeshi peoples’ diet as well as livelihood. We did some research on the livelihood of the fishing communities but more research is needed on the fish population in the marine area.
• To enhance climate change resiliency for marine ecosystems and resources
• Government should prioritize biodiversity conservation and sustainable marine fisheries.
• Shift industrial fishing operations from extraction-oriented to sustainably managed extraction through mandated monitoring, reporting and species-specific trade transparency and accountability
• Government needs to adapt science-based fishery management practices to fine-tune spatial and temporal closures and gear modifications.
• Strictly and equitably enforce the ban on prohibited, non-selective fishing gear. This will inevitably improve the productivity by protecting juvenile fish and crustacean larvae.
• Reduce extinction risk for threatened marine wildlife and stop overexploitation of marine resources
• Provide social safety net allowances to fishers during ban periods and make sure that allowances reach those in need
• Adopt science-based, informed management plans for existing and newly proposed protected marine areas and critical ecological areas
• Plan for long-term, underpinned by interdisciplinary science, research on the impact of climate change on marine resources in the Asia-Pacific region
• Knowledge dissemination through proper channels that are suitable for coastal farmers and fishermen
• NGOs and CSOs can collect and disseminate a range of information on community mobilization, training, extension, credit disbursement
• Government can assist in mobilizing greater financial support through advocacy and development of suitable projects.
• The ocean should be protected from land-based activities such as destruction and alteration of habitats, destructive fishing, untreated sewage, oil pollution from ocean and inland vessels including ship breaking yards and eutrophication
• Create a beneficial environment for climate-friendly investments (through taxing pollution and incentivizing green products) as well as enhance business environment to attract more international investment opportunities to implement mitigation and adaptation processes at the coastal areas of Bangladesh.