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Burma’s fish stock in severe decline

The Myanmar Fish Farmers Association (MFFA) has called for a national-level workshop to discuss the decline of fish stocks.

Over the past few years, fish populations in Burmese waters have fallen dramatically due to over-fishing and pollution.

The Myanmar Fisheries Federation (MFF) echoed the MFFA in saying that the decline is serious and said it wants to step up efforts to replenish fish stocks.

“In 2012-13, around 150,000 tonnes of fish were caught. But from 2010 to 2014 the number gradually declined,” said Han Tun, vice-chairman of MFF.

Since 2010, Han Tun said fish stocks off Burmese waters had almost halved.

Poor regulation of the industry over the past two decades has led to a rise in commercial and foreign fishing vessels, and subsequently a severe depletion in fish.

Han Tun is calling fishery operators to the negotiating table to openly discuss how best to tackle the falling fish numbers.

Since the late 1980s, commercial vessels have effectively been given a free rein to fish extensively off Burma’s coast, as the former military government made millions of dollars selling fishing permits to foreign companies.

“Some operators have a substantial yield, catching hundreds of thousands of fish every year. They employ around 500- 600 vessels nationwide – mostly in Mon State, Irrawaddy Division and Arakan State,” said Han Tun.


The market sellers are also feeling the effects of the decline, saying sales have dropped by about 60 percent over the past four years.

But in April, the government banned foreign fishing vessels from its waters in an attempt to ease over-fishing.

Burmese companies had to reduce their operations by 35 percent in April and May to allow fish stocks to replenish.

But Han Tun believes more needs to be done and wants to work together with operators to help renew fish stocks before irreparable damage is done.





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