Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) organized a seminar on “Blue Economy: New Frontier, New Possibility” on 27 April, 2017 at DCCI. Minister for Water Resources, government of Bangladesh Anisul Islam Mahmud, MP was present as the chief guest. Ambassador of Thailand H.E. Ms. Panpimon Suwannapongse, High Commissioner of Malaysia H.E. Ms. Nur Ashikin binti Mohd Taib and High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam H.E. Ms. Masurai Masri were present as special guests.
Secretary, Maritime Affairs Unit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, GoB Rear Admiral (Retd.) Md. Khurshed Alam, ndc, psc presented the keynote paper. DCCI President Abul Kasem Khan chaired the seminar.
DCCI President Abul Kasem Khan in his address of welcome said 17% of our total fisheries; transporting 90% of our international trade and about 30 million people of Bangladesh are linked with ocean based economy. Terming the example of India and Myanmar, he said we need to explore new offshore gas reserves under the sea as the gas reserve in the main land is limited. 800 million metric ton of fishes are caught in the Bay of Bengal every year and most of them are caught by India and Myanmar. He called upon the government to formulate a “National Blue Ocean Economy Development Policy”. He said feasibility study needs to be conducted focusing on the viability of power generation from tidal wave. He also stressed for developing public private platform to develop a marine resource centre.
Minister for Water Resources Anisul Islam Mahmud, MP said government has established a Blue Economy Cell for its betterment. He also said that Bangladesh consistently maintains 6.5% GDP growth over the last 10 years and now it is time to achieve 7-8% GDP growth to become a middle income country by 2021. Regarding untimely flood in the Haor areas of Sunamgonj, he said Cherapunji of India which is only 21 kilometers away from Bangladesh border recently experienced 1100 millimeter of rainfall. He said, this unexpected and untimely huge rainfall is the main reason of flood in the Haor areas. He also clarified that the average height of embankment around the Haro area is about 6.5 meters, but due to excessive rainfall the water level in the rivers of that region crossed this height and touched 7.17. Because of this, water overflowed the embankment of Haors and flooded the crops land. He said 1100 millimeter rainfall in later March in Cherapunji is not a normal case. He said government is firmly committed to stay beside the affected people of Haor areas and also said that government will consult with the concerned stakeholders to identify the need of heightening embankment. He also said that government has already made several investigating team and will show zero tolerance against any corruption if happened in this case.
Rear Admiral (Retd.) Md. Khurshed Alam, ndc, psc in his power point presentation said Bangladesh has 1,18,813 square kilometer of maritime area. We have a large deposit of marine resources under the blue ocean. There is enormous possibility of exploring economic benefit out of the Bay of Bengal like deep sea fishing, tourism, port, marine transportation, oil and gas exploration. He said to tap all potentials of blue economy we need to increase our capacity as well as capability and create skilled manpower. He said for deep sea fishing we don’t have that kind of ship. He said, by cage culturing we can double our Hilsha fish production per year and earn money from it. 2.6% of world’s total fish production is from cage culturing, he commented. Regarding shipping transport, he said Bangladesh has to pay $5 billion per year as a cost of only shipping transportation. So we need to look into this sector, he said. As most of the industries are in or adjacent areas of Dhaka, only 10% containers are being transported to Dhaka from Chittagong by rail. Another potential area of blue economy for Bangladesh is ship building which is a $200 billion dollar industry. Not only that we are 3rd in the ship recycling industry in the world, whereas China is first. He said sea based tourism is another potential area for Bangladesh. The world tourism market is of $1.3 trillion dollar, so we need to tap the possibility of coastal tourism. To create skilled manpower, he emphasized on starting 4-year Bachelor course on Oceanography in University of Dhaka. He said, our large area of Bay of Bengal is a vast area of economic opportunity, so he called upon the business community to invest in marine based industry to reap this economic benefit. He said Bangladesh can produce huge fresh while salt for export.
DCCI Director Engr. Akber Hakim, Professor, Institute of Marine Science and Fisheries, University of Chittagong Sayeedur Rahman Chowdhury and Additional Secretary of Blue Economy Cell Golam Shafiuddin, ndc were present as designated panelists. The discussants echoed that the resources are huge and open, we have to build our capacity to collect those without hampering our climate and in a sustainable manner. They are also reiterated creating skilled manpower to tap this sector. The discussants informed that only tourism sector of Thailand contributes 19% of their GDP. Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) has identified few priority areas like deep sea fishing, biotech, tourism, sea bed exploration. They also stressed for conducting proper assessment and study to identify real stock of resources and commercial viability. They also said that we have to protect our ocean from pollution.
DCCI Director Kh. Rashedul Ahsan, Former Senior Vice Presidents of DCCI Alhaj Abdus Salam, MS Shekil Chowdhury, Former Directors Waqar Ahmed Chowdhury, AKD Khair Mohammad Khan, Syed Moazzem Hossain, DCCI Convenors Syed Almas Kabir and Capt. Md. Nurul Haque took part in the open discussion session.
DCCI Senior Vice President Kamrul Islam, FCA gave vote of thanks.
DCCI Directors Humayun Rashid, Imran Ahmed, K. Atique-e-Rabbani, FCA, Mamun Akber, Salim Akter Khan, former Vice Presidents Absar Karim Chowdhury, M Abu Hurairah, former Senior Vice President Haider Ahmed Khan, FCA and Secretary General AHM Rezaul Kabir were also present during the seminar.