Norwegian assistance could help Bangladesh untap blue economy potentials as the Nordic nation is experienced in marine resource extraction
Bangladesh is looking for major investment in its pursuit of opening up the doors of the blue economy.
It has asked for support from many countries, including China and India, but no one has stepped forward.
Not even private sector investors have come forward to untap the promises of the blue economy.
However, Norway wants to give technical assistance to Bangladesh as it has rich experience in marine resource extraction.
Norwegian Ambassador to Bangladesh Espen Rikter-Svendsen said this during a meeting with Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun on Sunday while discussing strategies to use the potential of the blue economy.
Secretary (Maritime Affairs Unit) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Rear Admiral (retd) Md Khurshed Alam told The Business Standard, "We do not have many big ships to catch fish in the deep sea. Our fishermen are fishing near the coast in small boats or trawlers. This is not the right approach."
"We have repeatedly asked countries like India, China, and also Bangladesh's private sector investors for big ships. But we have not received a positive response. Even 19 businessmen got licences to catch fish in the deep sea around two years ago. But they have yet to start fishing."
Dr Subrata Sarker, chairman at the oceanography department of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology Bangladesh, said Bangladesh has great potential in mariculture, seaweed culture and ecotourism in the sea.
"Some entrepreneurs are coming forward but what we are missing is a combined effort. Also, we need a marine spatial plan," Subrata said.
The industries minister said the vast marine area of Bangladesh has created a big scope for the blue economy and the country can build industries based on marine resources.
He sought Norway's technical assistance in the extraction, processing and expansion of the marine fish industry.
Also, Norway's technical assistance in the development of the ship recycling industry, workforce training, marine litter and industrial waste management, and preservation of dried fish were discussed.
The industries minister highlighted the long-term technical cooperation with Norway in developing the environment-friendly ship recycling industry, too.
He also requested Rikter-Svendsen to increase the training and technical assistance from Norway to elevate the skills of the workers in the industry.
Espen Rikter-Svendsen said Norway has been cooperating in the development of Bangladesh's ship recycling industry for the past 10 years.
The country would continue its technical and technological assistance in modernising the industry, extracting marine resources, processing marine fish, setting up dry fish industries, and managing marine and industrial waste, the ambassador said.