Terming the sea as a huge source of resources, including fisheries, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said the government is taking initiatives to start the extraction of these resources within the next five years.”Or else, there’s a fear of loosing this opportunities. So, we’re trying to take steps fast, ” she said while addressing the inaugural session of the National Fisheries Week 2016 held at the Krishibid Institution Auditorium in the city.Citing the winning of maritime boundary cases against India and Myanmar, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has potential of fisheries resources in the sea which needs to be extracted. “So, the government has put emphasis on ‘Blue Economy’.As Bangladesh has no experience of extracting resources from the deep sea, an international tender has been floated in this regard and four companies participated in the bid, she mentioned.The Prime Minister also called upon the country’s businesspeople and exporters to maintain the high quality and standards of their products and exportable items and thus uphold the country’s image and maintain their own reputation.
“I call upon all concerned to remain alert so that the image of the country is not tarnished alongside bringing personal disaster while making a bit more profit,” she said adding that this should be followed in all exportable products, including fisheries, alongside marketing of local products.Laboratories have already been set up in Dhaka, Chittagong and Khulna to maintain the quality and standards of the exportable items while steps have been taken to examine the exportable fisheries items to maintain their hygiene, she said.Earlier, the Prime Minister distributed five gold medals and 15 silver medals to 20 individuals and institutions for their outstanding contribution to fish production in the country. Each of the gold medal recipient also received a Tk 50,000 cheque while the silver medal recipient Tk 30,000.She also underscored the need for maintaining capital dredging and maintenance dredging of the rivers concerned to maintain the biodiversity as well as help boosting fisheries production, reducing losses from flood and also to save the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest.Noting that fishery is a very important local and foreign currency-earning item for the country, she said that fishes could give people safer nutrition than meat.Hasina noted that Bangladesh currently ranked 4th in the world in terms of fisheries production from the sweet water sources and there is a very good chance to grab the first place if all concerned take more care considering the level of rivers, canals, beels, haors and water bodies that the country have.”We can solve the malnutrition problem of the country’s people through boosting fisheries production,” she added.Hasina said her government coming to power in 1996 allocated Tk 40 crore to ensure quality and standards of Shrimp Processing. “Such efforts made it possible to restore Bangladesh’s Shrimp market in different countries, including European Union,” she said.Hasina said livelihood of about one 1.82 crore people are now directly related to fisheries sector while contribution of the sector to the country’s GDP is four percent and 60 percent of the animal protein comes from fish.Under the National Fisheries Policy, she said, steps have been taken to maintain environmental balance, protect bio-diversity, manage society- based fisheries at Jalmohals and development of breeding places for fishes.Besides, 26 projects have been implemented at a cost of Tk 107 crore for the development of the infrastructure of Fisheries sector, she said adding that 799 Jalmohals have been handed over to the Fisheries Department to expand fish cultivation.As a result, FAO of the United Nations rewarded Fisheries Department with prestigious ‘Edward Souma’ in recognition of its successful contribution to implementation of the Fish Production and Fish Cultivation Expansion programmes, she said.The Prime Minister said her government took effective measures to protect mother ‘Hilsa’ and resist ‘Jatka’ catching by providing fishermen with food assistance. “The move has helped boost Hisa output,” she said.Later, the Prime Minister released fish fry at Ganobhaban Lake marking the National Fisheries Week 2016.Fisheries and Livestock Minister Muhammad Sayedul Hoque spoke on the occasion while Ministry Secretary Mohammad Maksudul Hasan Khan delivered the address of welcome.