Conservation Measures in Inland Fisheries
The freshwater fisheries waters means waters, pond, course, river, stream and lake which is of a permanent to temporary nature and in which fish live and thrive and which is situated within the inland boundary along the sea coast of Myanmar.Myanmar is endowed with Freshwater resources composed of riverine and estuarine system. Its extensive river system comprise Ayeyawady river which is about 2170km long and its tributaries are the Chindwin about 960 km long and Sittaung (560km), and Thanlwin (1300km). These riverine and estuarine systems provide for the nursery and spawning ground of fish which is main staple food of Myanmar people. Most of Myanmar people who live in rural area can access easily fishing in their place which is near creek or river, lake, flood area for their daily food. The fish provide as source of protein and very cheap or free nutrition for rural people in their whole life time as a gift of nature.
Department of Fisheries has been conducting the fisheries management and conservation measures to be responsible practice for exploitation and effective utilization of resources. In existing freshwater fisheries law(1991) and State and Regional Freshwater fisheries laws, it is prescribed the following objectives;
(a) To further develop the fisheries;
(b) To prevent the extinct of fish;
(c) To safeguard and prevent the destruction of the freshwater fisheries waters;
(d) To obtain duties and fees payable to the State;
(e) To management the fisheries and to take action in accordance with the law
In accordance with the freshwater fisheries law, the freshwater fisheries classify into leasable fisheries, reserved fisheries, tender fisheries and the fisheries waters in which fishing rights are granted under a licence (open fisheries) for the fisheries management measure. The fishers and fisher groups or fisheries communities can obtain the lease or tender licence or Fishing implements licence in the freshwater fisheries waters.
To manage the fishing activities, DoF prescribed the procedures for freshwater fisheries laws, regulations and licence conditions for determining the prohibited species of fish, size, fishing season, place, fishing gears and methods. DoF issued the notifications and directives for the resources conservations. DoF notified closed seasons during May, June, July to protect the breeders and fish fry.
In leasable fisheries, also known locally as Inn,the fishing rights are granted through a lease agreement with the DoF subject to stipulations relating to the area, species, fishing implements, fishing period and methods used. Open fisheries are also allowed based on the fishing license or floating tenders issued that specify the fishing grounds and any other methods that could be used in all inland water areas except in leasable fisheries.
Leasable fisheries also serve as conservation areas and production promotion sites based on collaborative arrangements among the lease owners and the DoF. However, the short-term lease period of one-year created some concerns as the lessees also had short-term outlooks for the fisheries and did not think of investing more in the fisheries and were not anxious to conserve the resources. As a matter of fact, this led to over-exploitation of resources as the lessees tended to maximize their catch without having thoughts on the sustainability of the fishery resources. Thus in 1909,the long-term lease system was adopted as means of preventing the extinction of indigenous species and depletion of fisheries habitats,sustaining fish production of leasable fisheries,monitoring and controlling illegal fishing in the lease areas, and promoting responsible fisheries practices in the lease areas.
In 1988-1989, the long-term lease permission program was suspended but was restarted in 1992. Under this resumed program, lease owners granted the long-term permission have to undertake various activities such as repairing the water ways where fish migrates, enhancing the fish stocks in the lease areas, and promoting the conservation of fisheries habitats. Considering that such activities could not be completed in one year, DoF grants the lessees long-term permission from 3 to 9 years. Thus, the lessees do not have to bid again for the auction and pay high fees for their lease areas during the lease period.
In order to promote the production and conservation of indigenous species, DoF has initiated culture-based system and capture-based system in leasable fisheries since 1997. At present, most of the lessees have been conducting these systems since these have provided them beneficial returns. Such practices in leasable fisheries have been promoted by the DoF as ways and means of obtaining sustainable fish production and at the same time promoting conservation measures.
As leasable fisheries progressed, some of the lease areas had been observed to be deteriorating due to siltation, agriculture operations, mining, and road and dam construction. The deteriorated habitats coupled with illegal fishing and overfishing resulted in the depletion of the fishery resources that eventually led to overall decreases in the country’s fish production from inland capture fisheries. Thus, the DoF finally established guidelines for preventing further decline of habitats and fish stocks, especially in the lease areas based on long-term lease agreement of three years. Since then, nearly 500 leasable fisheries have been permitted to operate long-term lease arrangements annually. For the sustainability of leasable fisheries, DoF has been permitted the 1686 numbers of long term leases for preparation of water channels and practicing cultures based and capture based system in the leasable fisheries in cooperation with fishers (owners of leasable fisheries) in 2015-2016. Stipulations in the lease agreement include the conditions spelled out in the guidelines. Guidelines detailing the responsibilities of lease holders (lessees) in the lease areas are as follows;
a. Submit to DoF proposal for long-term operation of lease area including work plan.
b. Upon issuance of lease agreement, implement the work plan under the supervision of DoF;
c. Conduct regular repair of waterways where fish migrates, and promote stock enhancement and conservation of fisheries habitats based on culture-based and capture-based systems;
d. Promote conservation of indigenous fishes by adopting capture-based system;
e. Enhance fisheries production using culture-based system by stocking fish seeds during the transition, i.e. nursing fish seeds in net enclosures in pens or cages or earthen ponds prior to releasing them to lease areas;
f. Rehabilitate the habitats in order that wild fish would reach the spawning and nursing grounds in the lease areas, e.g. deepening of shallow water ways, removing fallen trees and small bushes as well as other aquatic growth, creating spawning and nursery grounds in some areas along the migration route;
To sustain the leasable fisheries, the capture based system and culture based system has been practiced by lessee in case of beneficial return. The lessee usually carry out according to their annul work plan depending on the different locations. Most usual work plan of lessees is as follows;
a. May –June –July (closed season)
- Preservation of fisheries habitat and maintenance of waterways
- Digging shallow water ways, removal of fallen trees, small bushes and other aquatic growth
- Preparation of fishing gear (fish pen in the lease area)
- Inspection in the leasable fisheries area
- Releasing fish fry into the leasable area
b. August –March
- Finished the construction of Fishing gears
- Fishing period
Some leasable fisheries were transformed to reserved fisheries which need to protect and preserve the fisheries habitat and resources since 1992. Reserved fisheries means fisheries waters in which fishing operations are prohibited from time to time or in which subject it stipulation by the Department in order to prevent the extinction of fish and to propagate the same. There are 32 reserved fisheries and these are 9 in Yangon region, 5 in Sagaing Region, 3 in Ayeyawady region , 6 in Pago region and 9 in Mandalay region.
Another stock enhancement program is releasing seeds in the natural water bodies. This program was started in 1989-1990. 2113.48 acres for 12 Mud Crab protected areas and 896.96 acres for Lobsters Protected area is identified to protect the nursery grounds and spawning grounds in Rakhine State, Mon State, Tanintharyi Region and Ayeyarwady Region. 527000 Mangrove trees were planted in 1276.4 acres for preservation of biodiversity and mangrove ecosystem.
To maintain the sustainable production, 153.995 million fish fry are transplanted in the rivers, creeks, dam, reservoirs, lakes and rice fields and 66.621 million fingerlings were released into the leasable fisheries in cooperation between DoF and fishers in 2016-2017.
Department of Fisheries has been conducting the auction for leasable fisheries annually and DoF has collected the revenue 8205.706 million kyat in 2015-2016 fiscal years. Department of Fisheries has collected 2824.204 million kyat for tender fees and 67.952 million kyat for fishing implements fees in 2016-2017 in freshwater fisheries.
The Fisheries Development Meeting was conducted for the consultation on Fisheries Development Work plan in Mandalay on 21-6-2015. The workshop was led by U Khin Maung Aye, Deputy Minister, MLFRD and recommended 16 work plans for fisheries development. It was attended by state and Regional Officer of DoF, district officers, township officer and officers from hatchery office from Upper Myanmar.
The same meeting, led by U Khin Maung Aye, Deputy Minister, MLFRD was conducted in Yangon on 6-7.7.2015. It was attended by state and Regional Officer of DoF, district officers, township officer and officers from hatchery office from lower Myanmar. The meeting agreed to implement the 39 work plans for fisheries development in 2015.
The Regional Forums for inland fisheries was conducted in Mandalay on 26-27.10.2015.The forum was attended by U Khin Maung Aye,Deputy Minister, MLFRD, and experts from India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Lao, Cambodia, Local authorities from Mandalay Region, the professors from Universities, Pyopin, NAG and officials from Department of Fisheries. The forum agreed the 67 recommendations by consultation of 5 groups.
Fishing Vessel Registration and Licencing System of Myanmar
Department of Fisheries established the fishing vessel licencing system since 1988-1989. In former time, the fishing activities carried out by Myanmar Fisheries Enterprise which was state own business. In accordance with the existing fisheries laws, no one shall without a licence, engage in inshore fisheries and offshore fisheries.
Existing laws and policies on fishing vessel registration and licensing are as
· Myanma Marine Fisheries Law (1990)
· The law relating to the fishing rights of foreign fishing vessels (1989)
· Law amending the Myanma Marine Fisheries Law(1993)
· Law amending the law relating to the fishing rights of foreign fishing vessels(1993)
The existing laws are complied with international plan of Action and cover implementation of vessel registration and vessel licencing. According to political and administration reforms in Myanmar, DoF is preparing the new comprehensive fisheries law. In new fisheries law, it will include rules and regulations for vessel monitoring system and port state measures.
Department of Marine Administration is responsible for registration of fishing vessels and fish carrier vessels under the flag of Myanmar. Department of Fisheries carry out the granting to, suspending and withdrawing fishing licences from fishing vessel or carrier vessels of Myanmar . Department of Fisheries is the authorities for implementing, controlling and enforcing laws, regulations and conservation and management measures which must be complied with by fishing vessels of Myanmar.
To apply the fishing licence to DoF, the fishing vessel must have vessel registration issued by Department of Marine Administration. It must have prior permission of DoF for importing of fishing vessel from other countries and building of fishing vessels. Application for prior permission must be attached legal documents for importing and duties of tax. For application of the fishing vessel registration, the recommendation of Department of Fisheries shall be submitted to Department of Marine Administration.
The fishing licences for fishing vessels are issued by regional or state office of DoF. The following documents requires to be submitted to DoF;
· Vessel registration issued by Department of Fisheries
· Live saving appliance (LSA)
· The previous fishing licence issued by DoF
· The vessel’s photos (Front, back, left side, right side)
· The undertaking for truth of vessel’s owner
The term of fishing licence is from 1st September to 31st August.The licence should be renewable annually and DoF record the issuance of licence. The changes of measurement, engine, owner, vessel’s name and their infraction are recorded in DoF. Also vessel inventory has already prepared for some fishing vessels.
In accordance with the existing fisheries laws, the Master of fishing vessels :
a. Shall abide by the terms and conditions contained in the licence;
b. Shall hang the licence and registration certificate prominently at the wheel house of the vessel;
c. Shall maintain ship’s log-book and fishing data book as prescribed by the Department;
d. Shall be responsible for the safety of the inspector, researchers, observers and trainees who are on board the vessel;
e. Shall comply with orders and directives prescribed by the Department from time to time.
Vessel marking system for fishing vessel and carrier vessels also have established in Myanmar. Department of Fisheries issued the directives for vessel marking system for all foreign and local fishing vessel and fish carrier vessels. The four fishing grounds namely Tanintharyi, Ayeyawady, Mon and Rakhine, has divided for administration measure in fisheries. The vessel marking system for each region and state is identified as follows;
For offshore fishing vessel in Tanintharyi region , the hull colour is red and word colour is white. For Ayeyawady and Mon, hull colour is grey and word colour is white. For Rakhine Coastal region, hull colour is Yellow and word colour is white. For all carrier vessels, hull colour is white and word colour is red. The diameter of word is 8 inches and width of word is 1.5 inches.
The hull colour of foreign fishing vessel (Joint venture and Tuna Long line Fishing Vessel) is white and word colour is red.The diameter of word is 8 inches and width of word is 1.5 inches.
Inshore fishing licence issue by DoF in township level and offshore fishing licence issue by DoF in Regional and State level and Head Office. All inshore and offshore fishing vessels must have fishing vessel registration issued by Department of marine administration. The registration of fishing vessel in inshore fisheries is carried out by Department of General Administration which was authorized by Department of Marine Administration. For registration of offshore fishing vessels is conducted by Department of Marine Administration.
In 2015, DoF had issued the licence for 10619 non- mechanized boats and 16015 mechanized boats and totally 26634 boats in inshore fisheries. DoF issued the fishing licence for 3089 local fishing vessels which are owned by national in offshore fisheries. Department of Fisheries has collected licence fees 1340.494 million kyat from the inshore fishing vessels and offshore fishing vessels.
The fishing gear registration is included in the fishing licence. One fishing vessel is permitted one fishing gear only. If the fishing vessel owner wants to change the fishing gear, he shall apply to DoF for permission. The specification and limitation of fishing gears and other license conditions is stated in the fishing licence card. Currently, DoF is trying to improve the licensing system in electronic format under the e. government system.
Regarding with fishing vessel records, SEAFDEC has been assisting the South East Asian Countries in their efforts to combat IUU fishing through the implementation of the project on the Promotion of Sustainable Fisheries and Counter Measures to Reduce IUU Fishing in South East Asia funded by Japanese Trust Fund. One of the activities under the this project is the Development of a Regional Fishing Vessel Record (RFVR) starting with vessel measuring 24 meters in length and over which refined fishing licencing systems could be used as tools to combat IUU fishing in the region. In order to sustain the establishment of the RFVR for vessels 24 meters and over, SEAFDEF deemed it necessary to develop and manage the relevant Database. Myanmar also participates in sharing information for RFVR in this project and continues submitting of the record of 24 meters and over.
The basic information requirements for RFVR for 24 meters in length and over had updated as shown in following table ;