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The Bay of Bengal is the largest bay in the world, and forms the NE part of the Indian Ocean. Bordering the Eastern Coast of India, the southern coast of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka & Burma’s entire coast and includes also the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Thailand’s western coastline is on the Andaman Sea adjoining the Bay of Bengal.

In the 10th century the explosion of Indianized kingdoms led by the Chola Empire resulted in the Bay of Bengal known as the Chola Lake. It later came to be known as Bangal ki Khadi after the region of Bengal, from Banga or Vanga which refers to the river Ganges delta.

The Ganges is a 2,500km river that flows from the western Himalayas through northern India into Bangladesh where it empties. By discharge volume it is one of the world’s top 20 rivers as over 400mn live within the Ganges river basin. It is one of the world’s top 5 polluted rivers and has so far failed to galvanize a cleanup plan.

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.
Despite the large number of international, regional and sub-regional bodies and programs 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.
Maldives, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, have declared their willingness to work together through the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (BOBLME) Project and lay the foundations for a coordinated program of action designed to improve the lives of the coastal populations through improved regional management of the Bay of Bengal environment and its fisheries. 

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