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June 05, 2020

Finding alternative livelihoods for fishermen during closed season is a must

  • Recently, the Bangladeshi government announced a 65-day ban on fishing in its seas prompting protests by local fishermen in the southern part of the country.
    The ban on fishing during the mating and breeding season is meant to save aquatic resources from depleting in the long run, but it has hit the livelihood of local fishermen in the present.
    Similarly, no-fishing zones and periods have been designated in the Myanmar sea to ensure marine resources are not depleted, and to increase the reproduction of marine life.
    A ban has been announced on offshore and inshore fishing vessels in the coming closed season, starting from June and ending in August.
    Myanmar’s coast is home to a variety of fish, reptiles, birds, crustaceans, and other marine life.
    There are unique ecosystems in Myanmar, and the invaluable coastal ecosystem is facing a serious crisis.
    Our aquatic resources have declined compared with the previous decades due to overpopulation and over extraction, short-term oriented practices, use of land with unsustainable practices, and inadequate knowledge of socio-economic benefits from coastal ecosystems, and insufficient implementation of laws and regulations.
    At the same time, scientists on a Norwegian research vessel carried out a month-long study of fish resources and the marine ecosystem off Myanmar’s coast last year.
    The vessel has visited Myanmar in 1979, 1980, 2013, and 2015, primarily to survey fish resources at the start and end of the monsoon season.
    On comparing the research findings in 1979-1980 and 2013, a decline in fish resources in the country’s waters is evident. The population of Pelagic fish decreased 90 percent, while that of Demersal fish dipped 75per cent, according to research.
    In 2015, the population of Pelagic fish increased by 77per cent and Demersal fish rose by 40per cent, according to rough calculations by researchers.
    The development of illegal fish farming, use of inappropriate methods and banned fishing nets, climate change, and the depletion of mangroves was a blow to the declining fisheries resources.
    To conserve marine resources, the government is working on updating the Fish Breeding Laws, the Myanmar Marine Fisheries Law, and the Foreign Fishing Enterprise Approval Law to stay relevant to the current times.
    However, we must find alternative livelihoods for fishermen operating over 3,000 off-shore fishing boats and over 20,000 inshore fishing boats during the annual three-month ‘no-fishing season’.


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