OCEAN fishing will be suspended from June 1 to the end of August to allow depleted fish stocks time to recover, according to a statement from the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development.
The suspension had been proposed by U Kin Sein, member of parliament from Tanintharyi Region, in February, and was subsequently approved by parliament and announced by the ministry yesterday.
Fish stocks are rapidly dropping offshore, according to U Han Htun, a fisheries businessperson and member of Myanmar Fishery Federation. He said he reckons up to 80 percent of stocks have disappeared in some locations.
“There was a previous season where fishing was banned in 2011-12, but it lasted only about two months. Authorities also allowed fishing at about 65pc in this period last year, because otherwise fishing enterprises would lose their profits,” he said yesterday.
This year, fishing will be off-limits for a longer period, with no recourse for businesses looking to continue fishing despite the moratorium.
“Reducing the amount of fish caught in the sea gives hope for a fish comeback,” said U Han Htun.
Although fish production figures are hard to come by, export statistics show declining volumes of fish shipped abroad each year. A Myanmar Fisheries Federation spokesperson said fish exports in 2012-13 totalled US$653 million, dropping to $536 million in 2013-14, and could further decline to as low as $500 million for this fiscal year.
The closed season for fishing business is drawing opposition from some, who claim the move may hit the local industry too hard.
U Maung Soe, chair of the Myanmar Marine Fisheries Association, said there will be trouble not only for businesses but also for workers who will be unemployed during the period. For this reason, the association has applied to the ministry to loosen some rules to allow for a moderate amount of fishing during the closed season.
“In Yangon Region there are more than 1000 fishing boats, and so, many fishing enterprises,” he said. “All of them will have trouble continuing, and other businesses related to marine fishing will be shut down.”
U Maung Soe said cold storage factories, fisheries exporters and fish processors as among those which may also suffer. Some may have to temporarily halt their businesses, though others are stocking up on raw inputs, aiming to continue work over the suspension period.
He added the association will request permission to continue fishing at 50pc over the suspension period.
Others say it is likely that not every businessperson will follow the rules of the moratorium.
U Myo Nyunt, managing director of General Food Technology and Industrial, said his company will halt exports during the suspension period, though added he was concerned not all fisheries businesses will follow the rules.
“There will be fishing, and the closed season won’t be effective for maintaining our resources,” he said.
Source: Myanmar Times