Adopt modern techniques for fisheries development

010 72Myanmar is endowed with rich natural resources, compared with neighboring ASEAN countries. The main freshwater source is the Ayeyawady river, which extends over 2,170 kilometers, originating from Northern Kachin State, flowing through the middle of the country, and running down to the Ayeyawady and Yangon Division, and the delta regions are bifurcated with thousands of river branches, streams, and small canals before opening to the sea.
Apart from that, there are also Chindwin river – 960 kilometers, Thanlwin river – 1274 kilometers and Sittoung river – 294 kilometers totaling 4698 kilometers of fresh water sources in the whole country. Also paired with numerous different types of constant seasonal natural waters such as lakes, wetlands, inundated lowland, brackish and mangrove areas are the places where diversified indigenous aquatic fauna are thriving. Reservoirs and dams can also be utilized as fish culture ponds as well as for producing hydropower.
There are three different climates such as summer, rainy and winter enjoying fair weather of tropical and temperate climate conditions.
Myanmar is also endowed with 16 million acres (6.5 million hectare) of agriculture land and 18 million acres (7.3 million hectare) of virgin land which are potential for agriculture and aquaculture.
The coastal area commences from the border of Bangladesh on the West right down to the border of Thailand in the South with the length of 2832 kilometer. The other advantage is the Mergui Archipelago with over 800 islands that play a vital role comprising of natural shelter is suitable to culture high valued marine fishes, prawns and aquatic fauna for the development of the country.
With all these blessings Myanmar stands 14th in possession of fresh water body and 10th in hygienic clean coastal region all over the world.
According to the 2018 Department of Fisheries’ statistic, there are 247007 acres of fish ponds and 244338 acres of shrimp ponds totaling 491345 acres of culture ponds.
Within ASEAN countries if we compare the fishery natural resources between the highest fishery products producer Vietnam, Red River with the total length of 1149 kilometers flows through Vietnam with only 510 kilometers and Mekong River with the total length of 4220 kilometers flows through Vietnam with only 220 kilometers totaling only 730 kilometers of fresh water source for Vietnam.
Vietnam has a coastal length of 3254 kilometer which is 428 kilometer longer but Myanmar has an advantage of the Mergui Archipelago with over 800 islands indicate that Myanmar owns better marine culture environment than the neighboring country.
Moreover, Vietnam land area of 331210 square kilometers is only 48% of Myanmar which owns land totaling 678500 square kilometers.
If we compare Fishery Products Export between Myanmar and Viet Nam, Myanmar produces export value of only US$ 720 million in the fiscal year 2017-2018 and this amount is lower than Viet Nam’s 1997 Fishery Products Export value of US$ 776 million. The last year 2018 Vietnam produced US$ 8800 million worth of Fishery Products.
If we look at the comparison between the two countries we know that there is an urgent need to find out what are the reasons of Myanmar Fishery Products export that are much lower than another country which owns lesser fishery resources than us. As this is vital for us to know the answer Myanmar Fisheries Federation team headed by the Chairman visited China, Japan and some ASEAN countries in 2018 to learn how other countries were developing their aquaculture sector. After our trips we learned our lessons as we are making big mistakes concerning our present culture techniques.
As all of us around the world encountered a drastic decrease in our natural resources, almost all countries are developing aquaculture instead of fishing to feed the world. Myanmar had been culturing fish since 1953 and was using the traditional culture method with a stocking density of (1)fish per square meter which indicates stocking density of 4000 pieces per acre. Carps (Rohu, Migril) were chosen as the major fish species which took about two years culture period to reach marketable sizes.
In this modern age people are choosing short culture life fishes which need only six to eight months to culture with a stocking density of (30 to 100) per square meter with a stunning stocking density of 120000 per acre which was unbelievable when we started learning. Prawn culture period is only three to four months with the stocking density of (120 to 150) per square meter respectively.
What will be the crucial step that we need to take if we want to implement the modern culture techniques that can develop our fishery sector? The basic transformation will be the policy as the present one is not workable to develop like the neighboring countries. Viet Nam aims to develop aquaculture in a sustainable manner by prioritizing the development of industrial- scale farming of major aquatic species for export suitable to each region’s potential, strength and market demand. They implemented three different aquaculture zones in three different regions equipped with Research Center in each zone. Concurrently, they plan to reorganize production toward raising product value and combining production, processing and consumption. Vietnam government has already allotted around 1.2 million hectares of land for their master plan on fisheries development through 2020 with a vision toward 2030. Their fishery products export value will be US$11000 million (US$ 11billion) in 2020 and will reach US$20000 million (US$20billion) in 2030. The Vietnam Government also takes the responsibility of infrastructure such as transport (roads) and electricity for the designated aquaculture zone.
Likewise, if we really want to develop our fishery sector we should learn to transform the present policies accordingly so that it can strengthen and assist the fishery sector to reach the “National Aquaculture Development Goal”. After the policy will be forming a Central Committee consist of a government body, fishery experts and fishery businessmen to draw a master plan suitable to each region’s potential, strength and market demand.
Myanmar need to restructure the fishery aquaculture sector according to the International requirements and transformation needed to implement will be stated below.
– Infrastructure (roads and electricity)
– Stocking specific pathogen-free breeders
– GAqP (Good Aquaculture Practice) hatcheries and nurseries
– GAqP culture ponds
– GMP/HACCP feed factories
– GMP/HACCP processing plants
– GMP/HACCP byproduct processing plants
– Research and Development Centers and
– International market strategy
To develop the fishery sector in Myanmar, our Myanmar Fisheries Federation already formed a public company after getting experiences from other countries. World recognized Basa catfish (Pangasius spp.) is selected as the first exportable fish and culturing this fish had been done successfully according to the international requirements. But still, there are other requirements which the government can support especially for constructing feed factories, processing plants and other necessary factories which can produce ready food for export purposes.
As Myanmar is not a highly industrialized country it can develop only by producing agriculture products. Agriculture has three major sectors namely agriculture, livestock and fishery. Even if we can produce a lot of agriculture products such as rice, beans, vegetable, etc. there are constraints for exporting. Likewise, livestock also has problems with exporting their products. Only the fishery sector in Myanmar has the advantage of exporting their food safety products to the international markets. As we’re using agriculture bi-products comprise of rice husk, groundnut cake, sesame cake, soy cake, etc. as a major component for our fish feed, agriculture sector can develop in harmony together with the fishery sector. The Steering Committee for Farmers Rights, Protection and Promoting of interest can guide, supervise and create a bilateral working group within the two sectors so that farmers can grow the plants that will be appropriate to use for fish feed. This is the right path to take for developing the fishery sector in harmony with the agriculture sector in a short period with the collaboration of the government, fishery experts, fishery businessmen and the workers which can create a better Myanmar where everybody can live happily ever after.

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