SEAFDEC, led by the Policy and Program Coordinator, Dr. Worawit Wanchana from SEAFDEC Secretariat on behalf of the Secretary-General and four (4) representatives from SEAFDEC Training Department (SEAFDEC/TD) namely Mr. Kongpathai Saraphaivanich, Ms. Panitnard Weerawat, Dr. Nopporn Manajit, and Ms. Suwanee Sayan took part in the Regional Inception Meeting the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem Project Phase II (BOBLME II) from 12 to 13 December 2023 and back-to-back the First Regional Project Steering Committee Meeting of the BOBLME II project on 14 December 2023 which was conducted in a hybrid format. The Regional Inception Meeting and First Regional Project Steering Committee Meeting were attended by the Project Steering Committee Member (focused on environment and fisheries) and National Coordinator from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the national focal point from Maldives, Malaysia, Indonesia, and along with representatives from relevant organizations namely Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) of Norway, FAO Headquarters in Rome, BOBLME Adviser Phase I, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (FAO RAP), and three (3) Executing Agencies namely Bay of Bengal Programme Inter-Governmental Organisation (BOBP-IGO), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) were also present. The objectives of the Regional Inception Meeting to share more information about BOBLME II, to provide a forum for project stakeholders to exchange and discuss, to expand cooperation for the project inception phase and to establish the Regional Project Steering Committee (PSC) which will endorse the Year 1 Workplan and Budget for the BOBLME II project during the subsequent First Regional Project Steering Committee Meeting.
At the Regional Inception Meeting, a comprehensive presentation was made, covering the overview and current status of the project, as well as the Project Institutional Arrangements. This was followed by an in-depth discussion on the vision, year 1 roadmap, and proposed implementation approach outlined by the executing agencies. These strategies are slated for implementation in the year 2024. The executing agencies provided insights into the planned workplans and the proposed implementation approach, shedding light on the key initiatives that will be undertaken. Special attention was given to the country-specific visions and remarks regarding opportunities within the framework of BOBLME II. This included a focus on potential areas for implementing activities related to the ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) and Marine Management Areas (MMA) within the participating countries.
At the First Regional Project Steering Committee Meeting, the National Coordinator representing Sri Lanka was elected to assume the role of the Chair, with Mr. R.A.D.S Ranatunga appointed to this position. Additionally, Ms. Wantana Chenkitkosol, the Project Steering Committee Member for Thailand, was elected as the Co-chair of the Project Steering Committee Meeting.
During this meeting, several critical elements were addressed and approved. Firstly, the Terms of Reference for the Project Steering Committee were endorsed, outlining the roles, responsibilities, and operating framework for the committee. Subsequently, the Year 1 Workplan and Budget were approved, providing a clear roadmap for project activities in the initial year of implementation. Additionally, the recommendations from the earlier inception meeting were also endorsed, signifying a collective commitment to the proposed strategies. Then, the Project Steering Committee took note of the upcoming interim and second PSC meeting, scheduled for November 2024. The specific venue for this meeting will be announced at a later date