Bangladesh moves to declare dead fishermen missing in the sea

The government is weighing a proposal to declare dead fishermen who go missing while fishing in the sea, if it is necessary for their families to get help from the local authorities.

State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman discussed the plan at the Deputy Commissioners’ Conference in Dhaka on Wednesday.

Many fishermen go missing while fishing in the sea, but the deputy commissioners cannot declare them dead even if they do not return after a long time, he said.

So the DCs have proposed forming a legal framework to declare them dead. Otherwise, their families get deprived of government help in many cases.

“It’s a nice proposal. I’ve asked the Cabinet Division to take a decision on it after discussions and see what the neighbouring countries do regarding this matter,” the state minister said.

A large section of the population along the coasts in Barguna, Patuakhali, Barishal, Noakhali, Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar depend on maritime fishing.

Many of the fishermen do not return from their voyage, mostly after their boat capsizes in rough weather. Bangladesh does not have official records of these ill-fated fishermen and their families.

The government accepted the DCs’ proposal to build more storm shelters in the coastal districts.

Bangladesh now has nearly 7,000 storm shelters and the government is planning to build 1,000 more, Enamur said.

The DCs also sought onetime allocation of funds to develop rural infrastructure, but State Minister Enamur had his reservations about the demand.

“The pace of work remains on track and the monitoring yields good results if the funds are cleared in two or three instalments,” he said.

According to him, the government provided humanitarian aid to 70 million people, including 2.2 million who received help through the 333 helpline, in the two years of coronavirus pandemic.