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Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystems (BOBLME)

The Bay of Bengal is one of the world’s sixty-four Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs), and includes the coastal waters of the Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. This LME bordered mostly by India and Sri Lanka to the west, Bangladesh to the north, Myanmar and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the east.

The LME includes the coastal areas, islands, reefs, continental shelves and coastal/marine waters of the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman Sea and the Straits of Malacca, and spans a total area of approximately 6.2 million km2. While much of the LME lies within the exclusive economic zones of these eight countries, a significant proportion is on the high seas and not subject to any national jurisdiction.

Over 400 million people in the Bay of Bengal area are dependent on coastal and marine resources for their food, livelihood and security. Rapid population growth, high dependence on resources and increased land use has resulted in over exploitation of fish stocks and habitat degradation, and has led to considerable uncertainty whether the ecosystem will be able to support the livelihoods of the coastal populations in the future. Ensuring the health of this Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) will have direct bearing upon the ability of both current and future generations to meet their needs.

Despite the large number of international, regional and sub-regional bodies and programmes operating in the Bay, none have a clear mandate, geographical scope and/or capacity to support a regional initiative that would effectively address the issues confronting the coastal communities of the BOB. Furthermore, the current existence of many ineffective policies, strategies and legal measures at the National level would likely impede the development of any regional arrangements. Other major constraints include weak institutional capacity at national levels, insufficient budgetary commitments, and lack of community stakeholder consultation and empowerment.

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