Ministry mulls dam fisheries proposal
THE Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation is weighing the merits of issuing fishing permits for over 500 dams across the country, in response to requests from flood-afflicted pond fish farmers.
Would-be dam fishermen first requested the ministry consider the proposal in June, after their pondbased stocks took another hit from the monsoon flooding. They say increased frequency of flooding sees them lose their investment every year.
The proposal was being considered and negotiations are underway, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation U Tun Win told The Myanmar Times on September 9.
“The Department of Fisheries [also] approved of the proposal,” he said.
Lawmakers face a challenge on the issue, with fisheries in dams not specifically outlined in the Irrigation Act. The act will require amendment in order to accommodate the proposed new fish breeding method.
Addressing the media after a parliamentary session, U Tun Win said putting the dams out to tender could also be a boon for landless rural dwellers.
“We do not give [licences] individually. We will give them only if they join with a cooperative,” he said, indicating that the department intends to provide training and technical assistance on fish breeding if the proposal is greenlit.
Environmental changes brought about by the construction of dams has had a major impact on fish stocks in the nation’s waterways, he said, with some species’ populations showing a marked decline.
The proposal comes as the ministry begins a three-year project to improve living standards for farmers in tropical regions. The project, being carried out with the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund, is aimed at improving the health of animals, production and markets.
One key task will be conducting an “animal census” in central Myanmar, in the townships of Mahlaing, Myingyan, Taungtha, Nwartogyi, Pakokku and Yesagyo.
This, U Tun Win said, will provide a clearer picture of the number of fisheries in the region and inform decisions made about fish and prawnrearing businesses. The project is being conducted with assistance from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
U Tun Win said the dam fishing proposal has his support.
“Breeding the fish in the dams is not strange for me,” he said, pointing out that using dams for breeding fish is common practice in Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh and China.
“If the fish are kept in the dams, they would not suffer natural disasters. They will [only] get lost when the dams break. It is the surest, and dams are seas for fishes.” – Translation by San Layy
and Khine Thazin Han
‘If the fish are kept in the dams, they would not suffer natural disasters.’
U Tun Win
Barriers around a fishponds have proved insufficient to keep floodwater out, leading to a massive loss of fish.