Thai fishing boats will not be able to trawl Myanmar’s territorial waters from March 2014 when a current agreement expires, a spokesperson for the Myanmar Fisheries Federation said in a meeting last week.
The decision follows a workshop held by the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries concerning Thai fishing rights in Nay Pyi Taw last week. The workshop was attended by the fishing experts, businesspeople and representatives of several industry bodies and was overseen by the Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, U Khin Maung Aye.
“We had discussions about fishing rights and the experts put forward information suggesting that the agreement should not be continued after 2014,” said U Han Htun, MFF executive vice president. “The outcome of discussions was that Thai fishing boats should not be allowed to fish our waters anymore.”
The ministry will report the results of the workshop and subsequent decision to the government and also try to publicise it before the agreement expires, he said.
U Kyaw Naing, a fishing fleet owner, said he was pleased with the decision as Thai boats tend to break the existing agreement, which states that Thai boats can only fish a minimum of 12 miles (16.2 kilometres) off the coast, a provision meant to ensure local fisherman are left with enough fish.
“It would be better for us if Thai boats cannot operate in Myanmar’s waters,” he told The Myanmar Times.
Daw Toe Nandar Tin, MFF executive committee member, said previous agreements that allowed foreign boats worked on the idea that there was a surplus of fish, which is no longer the case.
“When we had a surplus in the past, we shared with our neighbours in line with international practices. At that time, the Myanmar fishing business was small and we could only use some of fish.
“But now our industry needs more fish and our waters are not as well stocked as they were in the past,” she said.
She added that proper research on Myanmar’s marine stocks is required.
“We have no research or data on our stocks, so we can’t know anything for sure.”
U Win Kyaing, MFF general secretary, said it was clear where foreign investors saw value in Myanmar’s fishing industry – the right to fish its waters.
“When we meet foreign investors they are more interested in getting the right to fish our waters,” he said. “They always ask for fishing rights in Myanmar.
Source: Myanmar Times