The Bay of Bengal (BoB) is one of the world's 64 Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) and is bounded by Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. About one-fourth of the world's population resides in the littoral countries of the BoB, with approximately 400 million living in the Bay's catchment area, many subsisting at or below the poverty level. The management responsibility of BoBs living resources and its habitats not only lies with Bangladesh but is also an exclusive task for all the neighboring countries to resolve the existing problems. Those eight marginal countries have already realized that they need closer link and cooperation for sustainable management of the fisheries resources of the BoB and its LMEs.
Despite the large number of international, regional and sub-regional institutions and programmes operating in the BoB, none have the mandate, geographical scope and/or capacity to support an initiative based on an LME approach, particularly one that addresses the transboundary common issues and barriers characteristic of the BoB.
BOBLME project formulation and funding
In view of the importance of the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (BOBLME) to the health, well-being and livelihoods of the millions of people living in the BOBLME region, the Advisory Committee of the Bay of Bengal Programme (BOBP) requested the FAO to assist in the formulation of the BOBLME Project and submit to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other donors for funding. The BOBP was a long-term regional fisheries programme in which Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand were participating, with Myanmar having observer status. In its first two phases, the BOBP aimed to improve the socio-economic conditions of the small-scale fisher folk in the member countries through the development and promotion of new and innovative techniques and technologies. The third phase of the project was designed to address more directly the serious fisheries management problems and assisted the national institutions responsible for fisheries management in setting directions and accelerating the development of sound fisheries management policies and practices. During this latter phase, the BOBP countries increasingly recognized the need to manage the coastal and marine resources, including the environmental threats to those resources, in a coordinated, comprehensive and integrated manner and also it became clear that the on-going BOBP cannot resolve the aforementioned issues alone.
As a consequence GEF, Norway, SIDA, NOAA, FAO, WB and 8 participating countries agreed to fund the BOBLME Project. The BOBLME project is a five year project with a total estimated budget of US$31 million. Total project costs distributed by funding source are: (i) GEF (US$12.1 million), (ii) Co-financiers, NORAD, SIDA, NOAA (US$12.4 million), (iii) BOBLME 08 Member States (US$5.7 million) and (iv) FAO (US$0.8 million). GEF strategic funding policy requirement is 1:1 matching fund. Each member country's contribution stands to an equivalent amount of US$ 712,500 (in kind US$ 437,500 + in cash US$ 275,000), which mean 498.80 lakh Taka (in cash Tk. 192.50 lakh + in kind Tk. 306.30 lakh) in Bangladeshi currency. FAO operates the GEF fund as the implementer.
BOBLME project launching and life
The BOBLME Project was envisioned to start in September 2008 and to be completed in August 2013. The project was finally endorsed by GEF on 30 June 2008. The TPP "Support to Sustainable Management of BOBLME (SBOBLME) Project" was prepared by the Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI) and approved by Bangladesh Government on 04 November 2008. BFRI is the implementer of the SBOBLME Project. Bangladesh Govt. signed the Aide Memo and BOBLME project document on 03 March 2009. Due to delay of signing of the Aide Memo by 8 participating countries and activity launching it officially started on 01 April 2009 and is now scheduled to finish on 30 March 2014.
BOBLME project objectivesThe project's objectives are:
|•||Establishment of a Strategic Action Programme (SAP) to protect the health of the ecosystem and manage the living resources of the BoB on a sustainable basis to improve the food and livelihood security of the region's coastal population. Global benefits will accrue from the SAP's implementation which over time will lead to an environmentally healthy BOBLME.|
|•||Promote the development and implementation of demonstrative regional and sub regional collaborative approaches to common and/or shared natural resource issues which affect the health and status of the BOBLME.|
|•||Support activities and participate and share information with other regional and global environmental monitoring programmes that will lead to better understanding of the BOBLME ecological functions and processes.|
|•||Support activities leading to an agreed on set of environmental indicators to measure the health of the BOBLME and the development of a regional collaborative approach to identify important coastal water pollution issues and develop remedial strategies.|
BOBLME project Components
The project has been structured into five interlinking components. At the national and regional workshops and Project Steering Committee meetings, the BOBLME countries stressed the need to initiate some of the priority transboundary activities to address critical issues that had been identified throughout project development process. The activities selected would furthermore contribute to the finalization of the TDA and the development of the SAP. The five components and sub-components are:Component-1: Strategic Action Programme (SAP)
Objective: Prepare a Strategic Action Programme (SAP) whose implementation will ensure the long-term institutional and financial sustainability of the BOBLME Programme.
|1.2.||BOBLME Institutional Arrangements|
|1.3.||Sustainable Financing Strategy and Recommendations|
|1.4.||SAP Formulation and Adoption|
Component-2: Coastal/Marine Natural Resources Management and Sustainable Use
Objective: Promote the development and implementation of demonstrative regional and sub-regional collaborative approaches to common and/or shared issues which affect the health and status of BOBLME.
|2.1.||Community-based Integrated Coastal Management (stocktaking)|
|2.2.||Improved Policy Harmonization (mainstreaming)|
|2.3.||Collaborative Regional Fishery Assessments and Management Plans|
|2.4.||Critical Habitat Management|
|Component-3: Improved Understanding and Predictability of the BOBLME
Objective: Support activities and participate and share information with other regional and global environmental monitoring programmes which will lead to better understanding of the BOBLME ecological functions and processes.
|3.1.||Improved Understanding of Large-scale Processes and Dynamics affecting the BOBLME|
|3.2.||Marine Protected Areas in the Conservation of Regional Fish Stocks|
|3.3.||Improved Regional Collaboration|
|Component-4: Maintenance of Ecosystem Health and Management of Pollution
Objective: Support activities leading to an agreed set of environmental indicators to measure the health of the BOBLME and the development of a regional collaborative approach to identify important coastal water pollution issues and to develop remedial strategies.
|4.1.||of an effective Ecosystem Indicator Framework|
|4.2.||Coastal Pollution Loading and Water Quality Criteria|
|Component-5: Project Management, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Knowledge Management
Objective: Establish a cost-efficient project management, M&E, and information dissemination capacity and process leading to the successful implementation of the BOBLME Programme.
|5.1.||Establishment of the RCU|
|5.2||Monitoring and Evaluation System|
|5.3.||Project Information Dissemination System|
BOBLME project OutcomesProject outcomes include
|i.||a finalized Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA), including a location-specific assessment of critical transboundary concerns and the identification of "hotspots";|
|ii.||an agreed Strategic Action Programme (SAP);|
|iii.||the establishment of permanent institutional arrangements and identification of a sustainable financing mechanism/financial arrangements that will support the continued development and broadening of commitment to a regional approach to BOBLME issues;|
|iv.||creation of conditions leading to improved wellbeing of coastal/marine fishers (small-scale fishers) communities through incorporating regional approaches to resolving resource issues and barriers affecting their livelihoods into the SAP and future BOBLME Programme activities;|
|v.||support for a number of regional and sub-regional activities designed to: a. promote collaborative ecosystem approaches leading to changes in sources and underlying causal agents contributing to transboundary environmental degradation (defined both as shared and common issues); b. provide critical inputs in the form of "lessons-learned" and "products" into the development of the SAP; and c. promote the restoration of depleted fisheries stocks;|
|vi.||development of a better understanding of the BOBLME's large-scale processes and ecological dynamics;|
|vii.||establishment of basic health indicators and collation of baseline and assessment data in the BOBLME;|
|viii.||increased capacity; and|
|ix.||long-term commitment from the BOBLME countries to collaborate in addressing complex situations confirmed through adoption of an agreed institutional collaborative mechanism.|