An Ecosystem Based Approach to the assessment and governance of the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem
The Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (BOBLME) is one of the largest and most important globally. In recent years Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand have come together to build consensus around a Strategic Action Programme (SAP) with the support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) International Waters, Norway, Sweden and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). The Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) process identified a number of key issues including overexploitation of marine living resources, degradation of critical habitats and pollution and water quality. The TDA process identified several key drivers which contribute to these issues. These include socio-economic drivers, institutional, legal and administrative drivers and climate change. The agreed SAP identified four key objectives including that fisheries and other marine living resources are restored and managed sustainably; degraded, vulnerable and critical marine habitats are restored, conserved and maintained; coastal and marine pollution and water quality are controlled to meet agreed standards for human and ecosystem health; and social and economic constraints are addressed, which should lead to increased resilience and empowerment of coastal people. Analysis of the BOBLME SAP shows that just over 70% of the identified activities are being undertaken to some extent by countries already. SAP implementation recognises the importance of approaches such as the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF), Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) and the focus on Small Scale Fisheries. Whilst BOBLME countries vary considerably in their governance arrangements and capacity to implement, they recognise the importance of regional coordination and cooperation to address transboundary issues.