Villagers' livelihoods threatened by fishing permit scheme

Aug 14, 2008 (DVB), A new scheme by local authorities in Lappadan township in Tharwaddy province, Bago division, to put fishing permits up for auction has left local villagers unable to support themselves.

Residents of Beelin village group make their living by cutting wood or farming during the winter and summer months and by fishing in the rainy season.

But village Peace and Development Council chairman U Tin Soe has decided that locals will no longer be able to fish freely in village creeks, but has instead introduced fishing permits, to be sold at auction.

A local resident said the decision had put the livelihoods of about 300 locals in jeopardy.

"Now it's like only people who can afford money can catch fish in the area, but the locals can't do any other work, as this is all they know how to do," the resident said.

"At first they were surviving on boiled rice, but they have done that for two weeks and now they are running out of rice to boil," he said.

"These villagers grew up under the strict rules of the military government, so they don't really know how to respond to this, and they are afraid they might come under pressure if they complain," he went on.

"Local village authorities don't have the power to sell off fishing access to local creeks, it's illegal."

Local authorities were unavailable for comment.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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