Because of the sitting government’s strong efforts, Bangladesh has won a good portion of ocean area from India and Myanmar. Now that we are on our way to becoming a middle-income country soon, the time is now to utilise our deep sea resources, not only for sustainable development, but also to improve the socio-economic status of the residents of coastal areas.
In general, 80% of global trade, by volume, is carried by sea and handled by ports worldwide. According to UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), global seaborne trade would be augmented by 4.3% every year from 2018.
We can ensure our participation in the global seaborne trade by linking coastal states. By using the three main ports -- the Chittagong, Mongla, and Paira -- as transits, we have the opportunity to amplify our national income.
Marine bio-prospecting is an indispensable tool in bio-technology. Oceans and seas are sources of a large variety of life-forms, including macro and micro-organisms. Living marine resources have immense potential for developing new nutrition, bio-chemical, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and bio-energy applications.
So far, around 18,000 natural products have been developed from about 4,800 marine organisms. What is more, the global market for marine biotechnology is projected to reach $4.9 billion by 2018. As things stand, Bangladesh has immense potential to reap the benefits of having a large pool of marine resources.
Because of our middle-income aspirations, it is highly important that our government gets working to ensure that electricity reaches each and every home by the year of 2021. In this context, the generation of electricity in the coastal states by use of wind turbines holds tremendous potential.
The global market for marine biotechnology is projected to reach $4.9 billion by 2018. As things stand, Bangladesh has immense potential to reap the benefits of having a large pool of marine resources
Global offshore wind capacity is growing at the incredible rate of 40% per year -- in 2013 alone, 7,100 megawatts of electricity was produced. From this, it can be predicted that the growing demand of electricity can be mitigated if we utilise our coastal areas to produce electricity using wind turbines.
The Bay of Bengal is a particularly great source of fish. Bangladesh gets 6,000,000 tons of fish every year from the Bay of Bengal. It is about 16% of the world’s total production. Marine fisheries contribute at least 20% of the total fish production in Bangladesh, and 500,000 people are directly dependent on this sector.
In terms of salt manufacture, presently, we are producing salt by using small refinery units, and, evidently, the quantity of production is not enough. Production of industrial salt can be carried out by using more advanced technology, and, eventually, we may even begin to export the product ourselves.
Bangladesh is abundant in natural resources, particularly, minerals such as copper, magnesium, nickel, and precious metals, including cobalt in the seabed. By exploring such mineral resources, we can supply industrial raw materials to various industries.
Bangladesh as a country links South and South-East Asia. This gives us a geographical advantage in the sector of coastal tourism, if the marketing and management are done right. Countries such as the Maldives, Thailand, and Indonesia have already greatly developed their coastal tourism.
With our magnificent coastlines, there should be no reason for us to fall behind. By utilising the Bay of Bengal, we have the great opportunity to develop an unparalleled coastal tourism sector.
Shishir Reza is an environmental analyst and associate member of Bangladesh Economic Association.