Min­istry mulls dam fish­eries pro­posal

The Myanmar Times - - Business - Thanhtoo@mm­times.com HTOO THANT

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.

Agri­cul­ture Min­istry

“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

Photo: Staff

Bar­ri­ers around a fish­ponds have proved in­suf­fi­cient to keep flood­wa­ter out, lead­ing to a massive loss of fish.

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