Tag Archives: fish industry

Bay of Bengal: ports against fishing

Strait_of_Malacca. Image from wikipedia

Bangladesh’s Chittagong, has… become a bottleneck. The Bangladeshis are modernising it… China is putting $200m towards upgrading the airport at Cox’s Bazar, the country’s southernmost tip, to attract investment and tourists.

Myanmar’s …new government, keen for foreign inflows to help rebuild the economy, has been approving projects that sat idle for years. Sittwe is one, but it looks small compared with the Dawei project on Myanmar’s Tenasserim coast… a deepwater port, industrial zone and highways to connect it with distant Bangkok, estimated to cost $8.5 billion.Thailand’s rulers dabbled for centuries with the idea of building a canal across the Kra isthmus, which would link their own gulf directly to the Andaman Sea and save days of costly shipping through the Strait of Malacca. Dawei should do the trick…. The Japanese are taking advantage of Myanmar’s opening to build a riverine port called Thilawa, south of Yangon.

The Chinese are exploring ways round their own Malacca-strait dilemma. They have been building new oil and gas pipelines across the whole of Myanmar starting from a new port-terminal at Kyaukphyu, near Sittwe….China’s activity in the Bay of Bengal is purely “defensive” [some say] but Indians versed in the “string of pearls” theory, which sees Chinese-built ports encircling India, will not be much comforted.

Amid the sometimes airy speculation, it is relatively easy to predict the effects on the repurposed waters of the bay. Yugraj Yadava, the director of an environmental watchdog in Chennai, says increased shipping is already eroding traditional livelihoods and polluting the sea. About 31% of the world’s coastal fishermen live and work on the Bay of Bengal, and they stand to lose huge tracts to the port-builders (and to rising sea levels, too). Mr Yadava says the bay still has some of the world’s healthiest natural fisheries, but they are under threat, not least from non-native species that stow away in long-haulers’ ballast.

Collisions between fishing vessels and commercial ships are becoming more frequent, as are snagged nets. All this will probably accelerate in the next few years. Before the Bay of Bengal falls victim to its new-found popularity, it might be good if some of its beneficiaries were to build a transnational maritime authority, to limit the damage.

Excerpts, The Bay of Bengal: New bay dawning, Economist,Apr. 27, 2013, at 40

The Dinner Table and Overfishing in the Coral Triangle

 

An insatiable appetite for reef fish like snapper in Hong Kong and other markets is fuelling over-fishing in the Coral Triangle, a key area for marine biodiversity, experts said…The trade is encouraging fishermen to use cyanide and explosives that destroy reefs and fish hatcheries essential for the industry’s future, they said.  Officials and experts from across the Asia-Pacific region are meeting in Indonesia to discuss the future of the lucrative live fish industry.  The trade brings species like grouper, parrot fish and snapper from the warm seas of Southeast Asia to dinner tables in markets like Hong Kong and mainland China.  “Over-fishing and destructive fishing practices such as the use of cyanide and explosives are being driven by an increasing demand for seafood across the Asian-Pacific,” said Geoffrey Muldoon, of environmental group WWF.  He said the problem was being “exacerbated by the lack of effective systems to sustainably manage this burgeoning industry”…Hong Kong is the major importer of live reef fish, buying a total of $159.6 million worth in 2008, according to Indonesian officials.  Indonesia is the second largest supplier after the Philippines, and exported 123,000 tonnes worth $85.5 million last year, WWF said in a statement. In terms of tonnage that was more than 57 percent up on 2009, it said.

The Coral Triangle stretches across six nations between the Indian and Pacific oceans — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

Excerpt, Asia-Pacific live fish trade under threat: experts, Agence France Presse, Mar. 1, 2011