16 local, foreign firms seek licence to catch Tuna fish in Bay of Bengal

Dhaka,  Thu,  21 September 2017
Published : 10 Aug 2017, 21:11:36

16 local, foreign firms seek licence to catch Tuna fish in Bay of Bengal

Ismail Hossain

Some 16 local and foreign firms have sought license from the fisheries department to catch Tuna and other pelagic species beyond the depth of 200 metres in Bangladesh's maritime area in the Bay of Bengal and in international waters.

The Department of Fisheries (DoF) renewed its call last February for applications as a number of earlier attempts failed to attract local investors.

According to the DoF, the competent firms will be awarded license in late September or early October.

Under the license, vessels will be permitted to catch fish  beyond the depth of 200 metres in Bangladesh's maritime area in the Bay of Bengal and in international waters for Tuna and other pelagic species.

As both of the fishing methods-- Long-line and Purse-seine--are new to Bangladesh, entrepreneurs are required to form joint ventures or collaborate with foreign companies with experience and capacity to transfer knowledge and technique.

"A total of 16 applications are now in the fisheries ministry for approval. This time, we received response from more capable firms than before," DoF Deputy Chief Ferdous Ahmed told the FE.

The DoF waited for 60 days after the first call in 2015 which succeeded in drawing only one application against an open quota of ten. Then the Department re-issued the call on October 26, 2015 only to find four more interested entrepreneurs to venture into international waters with Long liners.

Out of the five, four applicants got licenses on August 6, 2016, with conditions to submit detailed proposals and vessels' specification within six months.  

The four companies-- BANCAN Associates Ltd, Sealink Shipping, SLL Fisheries and Amin Enterprises---reportedly found that the government is not ready to launch Tuna fishing operation in the deep sea.

Mr Ferdous Ahmed said, earlier in 2003 there were efforts by the Department to issue license for Purse-seine vessels, but investors' response was not satisfactory.

Currently, Bangladesh has 246 small trawling vessels licensed for fishing beyond 40 metre-depth limit in the Exclusive Economic Zone.

According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), most high-sea vessels are on an average about 70 to 80 metres in length and can carry about 1,000 to 1,500 tons of frozen Tuna. Such vessels can catch fish throughout oceans of the world and make trips that last up to several months before returning to ports.

On the other hand, the Long-liners involve the use of a main liner which can be more than 100 km in length and from which as many as 3,000 branch liners, each with a baited hook, are dangled in the water column.

Mr Ferdous Ahmed said the Department itself will also go for Tuna fishing to encourage investors.

"We are also getting ready to launch our own ship for Tuna fishing in deep sea," he said.

Bangladesh has at least 400 fish species in its 1,18,000 square-kilometre maritime area. According to Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI), about 90 species are commercially important. But traditional fishing is not species-targeted.

After securing the membership of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, oceans are now open for Bangladeshi licensed companies to catch fish targeting only Tuna and other Tuna-like pelagic fish species.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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