What Should Bangladesh Focus on As the Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association?

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Bangladesh asserted a leadership role in promoting the sustainable use of marine resources, protecting the health of the ocean, and ensuring peace and stability in the maritime space. During Bangladesh’s leadership as Chair of IORA, it is not possible to focus on many issues in just two years. Thus, this write-up suggests that Bangladesh needs to focus on Blue Economy as the priority area of IORA. In fact, blue economy has the potential to change the fate of the people of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean region. Among challenges, lack of human resources, technology and investment remains key challenges in exploring blue economy potentials of the region. In this case, there is no alternative to fostering cooperation at regional scale. In fostering technological and investment cooperation on blue economy areas, enough political will and firm commitments from the member states and a regional response becomes essential.

As the chair of IORA, Bangladesh needs to focus on certain action plans, which are outlined in the following.

First, Bangladesh needs to focus on the protection of marine fisheries from depletion. In this case, marine protected areas for marine fisheries need to be created at the regional scale. In addition, Bangladesh can play a proactive role in preventing habitat destruction. Small-scale fishermen are highly vulnerable to the impacts of fisheries stock decline. In addition, COVID-19 global pandemic has affected the small-scale fishermen and fisherwomen badly. Thus, the welfare and well-being of the small-scale fishermen and fisherwomen need to be prioritized at the regional scale.

Second, it is also suggested that through the forum of IORA, Bangladesh needs to focus on preventing IUU fishing at the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean region. In fact, IUU fishing leads to overexploitation of fish stocks and contributes to the decline and extinction of many fish species.

– Dr. Md. Shariful Islam is Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Rajshahi. He is also an adjunct research fellow at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA). Mr. Islam worked on “Blue Economy Diplomacy for Bangladesh” as his doctoral thesis.

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