One thousand lifejackets have been donated to Bangladesh fisherman following an initiative launched by the Asia Pacific arm of the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF).
Along with member organisation Shanghai Sun Glory Marine Co, the IMRF Asia-Pacific Regional Centre (APRC) delivered the lifejackets to the Bangladesh Navy who transported them on two warships – Prottoy and Shandhinota – docked in the city of Qidong, Jiangsu Province China – to Bangladesh. Distribution of the lifejackets was then coordinated by the Bangladesh Coast Guard.
“This is a great example of co-operation between charities, a commercial company and the military to provide support for the fishermen of Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of drowning in the world and their fishermen risk their lives on a daily basis” said Bruce Reid, CEO of the IMRF.
“We hope to be able to offer more support in the future.”
The provision of the lifejackets stemmed from the loss of life following a large tropical storm in September, 2015 when many fishing boats capsized and there was considerable loss of life because there were no lifejackets onboard.
Mr Mahmud Rahman, a dolphin ecologist with the Tropical Dolphin Research Foundation in the region, had been working with the fishermen to help him understand more about the marine life offshore. He understood the impact that lifejackets could have had and decided to find out what could be done for the villages hardest hit by loss of life.
Jennifer Lewis, Director, Tropical Dolphin Research Foundation said: “We sent an email to the IMRF to see what type of help could be provided. What resulted was an amazing collaboration between charities, government organisations and commercial suppliers. We realise that it may seem a leap from protecting dolphins, but to us conservation involves also protecting humans that share this environment with the dolphins. Doing this, we then have a better chance to preserve all of the nature we love.”
Mr Rahman was instrumental in managing the distribution of 400 of these lifejackets from Bagarhat, where they were stored at the Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute.
Last week a small ceremony was held at the Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute, Bagarhat to celebrate the arrival of the jackets and 21 boats were provided with 14 jackets each. Vessel checks will be made by the local Coast Guard officers to ensure the jackets are maintained on the vessels.
The ceremony involved participants included Md. Jahangir, District Commissioner of Bagarhat, ATM Rezaul Hasan, Commander of the Bangladesh Coast Guard (West Zone), Dr Khan Kamal Uddin Ahmed, Chief Scientific Officer, Shrimp Research Station, Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute, Rakibul Islam, a Scientific Officer from the Institute and Mahmud Rahman, Field Research Manager, Tropical Research Foundation. There were 70 attendees of which 45 were local fishermen.
The IMRF APRC is looking at other possible areas of assistance that could be provided to help improve the safety of fishermen.
“It is estimated 25,000 artisanal die every year around the world so we have a responsibility to help find solutions to this challenge”, said Mr Reid.
“This exercise has highlighted that with the right approach the right people and a common goal much can be achieved. We like to think that safe fishermen make great grandparents, so even one life saved makes a difference.”