The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has released more than 51,000 fish fingerlings in Ayeyawady region as part of efforts to help ensure a sustainable future for fishing in the Delta.
The release of fish stocks is one activity under the FAO project ‘Sustainable small-scale fisheries and aquaculture livelihoods in coastal mangrove ecosystems’, which is designed to promote sustainable management of fisheries in the region.
Through the project, funded by the Government of Italy, FAO has been working with the regional government and fishing communities to plan and co-manage these activities within mangrove ecosystems.
The striped catfish fingerlings were released last week into the Set Su Creek, Bogale River, in front of Kant Ma Lar Chaung village in Bogale Township.
Staff from the Bogale Township Fisheries Office participated in the fish restocking, along with members of the Village Fisheries Management Committees and Village Fisheries Societies and FAO staff.
Children from local primary schools helped to release the fingerlings and were taught about the importance of sustainable management of fisheries resources to provide long-term food security.
The fingerlings are expected to grow to around 1 kilogramme in about six months.
Once caught, the fish will be used for home consumption and sold to local traders as fresh or processed (salted) fish.
The benefits of FAO’s project included more income for fishermen, stronger fishing rights, reduced pressure on natural resources and more equal fishing opportunities for local communities.
FAO works with local communities to build resilient fishing livelihoodsthatprovide food, nutrition and money for families and ensure communities are better able to withstand natural disasters and other shocks.
A key to the success of this project is that it brings fishers, governments and other partners together to jointly manage fisheries resources using local or traditional practices.
There has been a decline in the volume and size of fish caught in the Deltadue over-fishing and the destruction of mangroves, which provide breeding and nursery groups for fish.
The FAO fisheries project is a pilot and is expected to lead to a set of guidelines for fisheries co-management. The successful model is also likely to be expanded to other fishing communities in Myanmar.
Around 3,000 fishing households in around 20 villages are involved in the project. Nearly one in four people in these villages are full-time fishers and 41 percentare involved in casual labour connected to the fishing sector.
Under the project, FAO has also established and trained 20 Village Fisheries Societies with their Management Committees and transferred to them the right to fish in specific fishing grounds (tender lots) along the Bogale River. Before the project, small-scale fishermen had to buy access to these fishing grounds from brokers at very high prices and give the catch to the brokers to cover the debt. Now the Village Fisheries Societies can manage their own resources, leading to a substantial increase in income for fishermen and more sustainable fisheries management.
It has also delivered more than 130 training events to 4,000 participants, including post-harvest fisheries training for women’s groups; built or repaired fish ponds, stocked with fish; distributed multi-purpose wooden boats; improved fishing gear; post-harvest tools and equipment; styrofoam boxes to keep the fish chilled from capture to landing; efficient fuel stoves to reduce use of firewood; and small livestock.
The project has also established model farms to demonstrate supplementary livelihoods in fish culture, horticulture and livestock; built six landing jetties and three fully-equipped fish collectioncentres; and planted 96,200 mangrove saplings and 40,000 terrestrial plantsand conducted awareness-building and training programmes on mangrove restoration and protection.