Rights activists urged the government not to pass any law allowing foreign vessels to fish in Bangladesh's water territories with licenses. They said marginalized fishermen still lag behind when it comes to mechanized boats.
A provision has been inserted in the draft of the Marine Fisheries Bill 2016, allowing foreign vessels to fish in Bangladesh water territories with licenses, but this will be a suicidal step once it comes into effect, the activists told a human chain program in the city yesterday.
A group of 28 rights-based civil society networks, farmers, fishers and labor organizations arranged the human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club to voice their deep concern over the draft bill. Subal Sarkar of Bangla-desh Bhumihin Somity said Bangladesh, as per the international law, is not bound to open its sea to foreign fishing vessels since it does not have surplus fish resources.
But, the then undemocratic government announced the Marine Fisheries Ordinance in 1983 allowing scopes for foreign vessels to obtain licenses to fish in Bangladesh's water territories, he said, urging the present government to enact a new law restricting all foreign fishing vessels to the country's territories.
Engr Foyez Ahmed of Sommilito Sramik Federation said there has been no survey on the marine resources of the Bay of Bengal in the last 18 years. "It'll be a serious threat to local fishermen if we allow foreign vessels into our territory without having a proper survey.
They'll maximize their fishing since they have comparatively modern equipment and technologies," he said. Mihir Biswas of Bangladesh Paribesh Bachao Andolon said about half a million people directly depend on fishing in Bangladesh areas of the Bay of Bengal while most of them are using traditional and undated gears or methods of fishing.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury alleged that a vested quarter is trying to invade the country's marine areas in the name of fishing. It will be tough for Bangladesh to ensure its security in coastal areas if foreign fishing vessels are allowed to fish, he added.
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