Bangladesh: untapped potential of the marine environment

Between 2012 and 2014, disputes over the maritime boundaries with Myanmar and India were favourably settled for Bangladesh, resulting in the expansion of its territorial waters by more than 30 %. This achievement offers a wide range of new economic opportunities for jobs and growth around sectors such as marine fisheries, marine aquaculture, tourism, the exploitation of natural resources, trade and energy. 

Thus, since 2014, the Government of Bangladesh has initiated discussions with stakeholders on adopting the concept of blue economy across relevant policies and plans with the idea of exploiting the untapped potential of the marine environment. 

The EU provided a two-year (August 2016–July 2018) technical assistance programme entitled ‘EU-BGD joint collaboration on Blue Economy’, which was implemented by the Maritime Affairs Unit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The programme contributed to the formulation of a national vision and governance framework in the field of the blue economy, and to its implementation in a broader partnership that included government, the private sector, academia, and other stakeholders.

It has created a working environment where the cooperation between ministries is central, in the same way that the collaborative work with research and educational institutions and the private sector is at the heart of the blue economy implementation scheme. 

© Fisherman in Bangladesh – photo courtesy of Pierre Failler

The EU-Bangladesh blue economy initiative has also enhanced the partnership with the World Bank for the definition of the key actions to set-up in the Bay of Bengal, such as the development of biotechnologies for the exploitation of algae and the development of offshore fisheries, as well as the establishment of oceanographic research capacities. Furthermore, it has led to collaborations between institutions from Bangladesh and Europe, with some university agreements signed since the programme’s end in July 2018. 

This has ultimately led to the development of an ongoing research collaboration and the development of online training courses on the blue economy. Two special issues of a scientific journal on the blue economy in Bangladesh were published following the common research activities in 2019 and in 2021.