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Achieving sustainable management of marine fisheries in Bangladesh: a legal and policy analysis
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 16:20 authored by Abdullah Al Arif
Sustainable management of marine fisheries is a complex, multidimensional and multi-stakeholder process that entails sustainable use of marine living resources and conservation of marine biodiversity. Legislative, policy and institutional frameworks play a crucial role in conservation and management of fish stocks at all levels of governance-global, regional, national and local. Like many parts of the world, fisheries resources in the marine waters of Bangladesh are not sustainably managed. This thesis argues that there are several inadequacies and implementation gaps in the legislative, policy and institutional frameworks that contribute to the unsustainable exploitation of marine fish stocks in Bangladesh. The thesis reveals that the marine fisheries management framework in Bangladesh does not fully integrate the essential features of ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM), a holistic approach to fisheries management endorsed by the contemporary international fisheries instruments to ensure conservation and management of fish stocks. Bangladesh's legislative, policy and institutional frameworks for marine fisheries management still rely on an unconditional maximum sustainable yield (MSY) concept as an objective of fisheries management that does not take into account relevant ecosystem considerations and environmental factors, despite an international shift towards a conditional MSY concept that considers the relevant ecosystem components such as interdependence and interaction among various species and environmental factors such as water quality and temperature. Further, although the precautionary principle has been incorporated in most contemporary international, regional and national fisheries instruments and has become an indispensable part of fisheries management, it is almost absent in regulatory frameworks for exploitation, conservation, and management of marine fisheries in Bangladesh. Moreover, fisheries management laws and policies of Bangladesh do not have adequate provisions to ensure human and ecosystem wellbeing, cooperation among agencies involved, participation of relevant stakeholders in the management process, and adaptive management. Additionally, the institutions involved in marine fisheries management in Bangladesh are lacklustre and poorly equipped to implement EBFM for several reasons. Foremost, achieving sustainability in the marine fisheries sector has not been given priority in Bangladesh. Also, the decision-making process in Bangladesh is top-down, centralised and non-participatory, while a desirable decision-making framework should be bottom-up, decentralised and participatory. Integrated management, inter-agency collaboration and good governance-crucial qualities of an efficient institutional framework-are also lacking in the present institutional set-up for fisheries management in Bangladesh. Further, although the entire maritime area of Bangladesh is in the Bay of Bengal and most fish stocks therein are transboundary in nature, there is no effective regional framework involving all the coastal states of the bay to ensure conservation and management of these stocks. In the absence of a robust regional fisheries management framework, marine fisheries resources in the Bay of Bengal are unsustainably harvested. Finally, this thesis recommends that the Bangladeshi legislative, policy, and institutional frameworks and the regional arrangement for marine fisheries management be reformed to ensure conservation and sustainable management of marine fisheries within and beyond the maritime area of Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal.