Chennai: A status report by the Bay of Bengal Programme Inter-Governmental Organisation (BOBP-IGO) said climate change is taking a toll on marine fisheries in the region and sought greater research cooperation among member countries to check climate risks. The status report of the region was presented at a global conclave on mainstreaming climate change into international fisheries governance, held in Mahabalipuram near here on October 17 under the leadership of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). A release said that while presenting the report, the Director of BOBP P Krishnan said,
The Bay of Bengal is home to a rich diversity of fish stocks, but many are now overexploited or collapsed, due to a combination of factors including climate change, rising river basins, and inadequate management.
The region is bordered by six developing countries, including India and two small Island states. According to the report, the Indian Ocean is warming faster than other oceans, and this is disrupting the migratory routes and spawning grounds of the Hilsa fish, which is an important species for commercial fisheries in the region.
The report underscored that some fish stocks are showing a declining trend in the region, and called for urgent intervention to support improving the fisheries in a sustainable way, the release added.
Viewing the capacity gaps in shared stock management is another major issue in the region, Krishnan said, and stressed the need for greater research cooperation among the member countries. He said,
Climate change is a major challenge for the management of transboundary fisheries resources in the region. It is difficult to maintain sustained interest for long-term activities, and there is inadequate finance for marine fisheries R&D activities.
There is a special need for a climate science network among the countries, he said, and added that due to the lack of capacity and funding, implementing large-scale programmes has become difficult. In a release he said,
The countries of the Bay of Bengal must work together to protect their shared fisheries resources. They need to invest in research and development, improve management practices, and adopt sustainable fishing methods to protect the livelihoods of millions of people in the region.
Detailing the way forward, he said that introducing financial mitigation measures, adopting green fishing, and building healthy stocks are the major future plans of the BOBP.
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