Keep poor fisherfolks out of Fishing Ban

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Dhaka, 30 May 2019: Right Groups brought out a Human Chain in front of the National Press Club today demanding big polluters to be held accountable to protect the fish reserve and natural ecosystem of the Bay of Bengal and to exempt the poor and marginalized small scale fisher folk from the 65 days of fishing ban.
COAST Trust and Bangladesh Fish Workers’ Alliance (BFWA) jointly organized the protest event. Mustafa Kamal Akanda of COAST Trust moderates the speech session while it was concluded by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Chief Moderator of EquityBD and executive Director of COAST Trust. General Secretary of BFWA Mujibul Huq Munir presents the keynote speech while Barkat Ullah Maruf of COAST Trust, Badrul Alam and Rehana Akter of Bangladesh Krishok Federation spoke.
While presenting the keynote demands, Mujibul Huq Munir of COAST Trust said, small scale fisher folks who catch fishes from the sea with very small boats can’t harm the fish reserve or the natural ecosystem of the Bay of Bengal. They should have been exempted from the 65 days of fishing ban. But the big polluters who are the real threat for the sea and its biodiversity are hardly held accountable by the policy.
13 point recommendations is raised from the event on the issue of 65 days fishing ban that include: (1) small-scale and poor fisher folk should be exempted from the ban, (2) big polluters including oil spill, shipyards, plastic pollution, trawlers and pirates should be hold accountable to preserve the sea resource; (3) Minimum 8,000 Taka per fishing family should be given as compensation during the ban; (4) Foreign fishing boats and trawlers should be checked and stopped to enter into the Bangladesh territory during the ban; (5) All fisher folks should be registered and categorized and other demands.
Mustafa Kamal Akanda of COAST Trust said in his speech that 40 kg rice for 65 days of fishing ban as a compensation is a farce. Every poor fishing families should get at least 8,000 Taka per month during this fishing ban. He also said, fisher folks of Odisha and Tamilnadu are compensated 5,000 Rupees per month during this kind of ban period.
Rehana Akter, the vice president of Bangladesh Krishok Federation said, all the fisher folk including the poor fishing labours should be officially enlisted so that they could be easily identified for compensation to avoid corruption and duplication. She added, risk incentives and insurance for the sea going fisher folk should be introduced.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said while concluding the event, poor fishing community are only 4% responsible for the ecosystem destruction in the Bay of Bengal and they are the only sufferer of the fishing ban. The polluters of 96% including plastic pollution, shipyards, oil spill are hardly addressed. He added, The benefit of the ban will hardly serve them. We need poor-friendly policy to deal with this kind of issues.
Badrul Alam of BKF said, around 246 big fishing boats with trawl nets catch fish from the Bay of Bengal and they pull out everything from the ground under sea including smallest fish, flora and fauna. This normally should be fishing 40 meter deep sea, though they are taking advantage of low monitoring and fishing in the shallow area.
Barkat Ullah Maruf said in his speech, during the last 4 years 1.5 million liters of oil are spilled in the upstream of Bay of Bengal and every year 6 thousand ton of plastic waste are dumped into the Bay of Bengal from Bangladesh and India. To save the ecosystem of the Bay of Bengal, this should be addressed, not the ban for poor fisherfolk.
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