Go for proper maritime policy
Seminar spurs govt on building capacity of navy, coastguard
Staff Correspondent A national maritime policy is necessary to explore, protect, and make the best use of biological and non-biological resources in the Bay of Bengal, speakers told a seminar yesterday.
It is a must now to enhance the capacity of Bangladesh Navy and the Coast Guard to protect Bangladesh's interests in the Bay, they said.
The speakers suggested the government form a single authority that can be called National Maritime Commission to coordinate its agencies and stakeholders operating in the Bay.
Bangladesh Institute of International Strategic Studies organised the seminar The Need for a National Maritime Policy of Bangladesh at its auditorium in the capital.
They also stressed the need for creating opportunities for higher education and research on sea and oceans.
In the keynote speech, Rear Admiral (retd) Mohammad Khurshed Alam said Bangladesh needs to create awareness about maritime management among people.
We need a policy not just to ensure security and explore resources but to take decisions during disasters, accidents and salvage operations in the sea.
He said the policy should give emphasis on improvement of navigation of river routes.
We can carry containers from Dhaka to our Chittagong and Mongla ports at a much cheaper rate through river routes.
Formulation of a proper maritime policy and its implementation would help achieve that, Khurshed said.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith said Bangladesh needs to make the best use of its sea resources.
It is not possible for us to explore seabed resources at this moment, as we lack the capacity to do that, he said.
He said the government would continue to provide financial support to the maritime sector.
Navy Chief Rear Admiral Zahir Uddin said the people are politically sea blind, as no governments from 1991 to 2008 gave importance to the Navy.
The budget for the Navy was always much less than the other two forces.
However, the present government has been giving emphasis on the Navy, he said.
The Navy chief urged the government to purchase an Oceanographic Survey and Research vessel for $100 million to increase its capacity for sea research.
Maj Gen (retd) AMSA Amin said Bangladesh needs to build awareness among its people about the country's maritime boundary.
Bangladesh lags far behind other South Asian countries such as India and Pakistan in the maritime sector, he said.
The speakers also urged the government to increase the capacity of Bangladesh Shipping Council. The government agency that started its journey with 25 ships after the independence now has only eight ships.