By Kyaw Soe Tun (Department of Fisheries)
Late development in saltwater fish farming
Those residing in the rural areas in Myanmar account for 70 % of the total population of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. The majority of the people do for a living relying on agriculture. The agricultural sector makes up 29 % of the gross domestic product (GDP) whereas the fish farming sector accounts for 30 % of the GDP of the whole agriculture sector. Fish farming plays an increasingly important role in the national fish supply of the country.
The fisheries sector includes offshore and inshore fishing, inland fish ponds, inland freshwater aquaculture, tender fisheries, fish farming, fish and shrimp processing business. It is impossible to boost capture fisheries and so it is necessary to strive for the betterment of fish farming.
The freshwater fish farming began in the 1950s is now making progress, but the saltwater fish farming is still lagging behind. The development of saltwater fish farming should be carried out in the appropriate places along the 2,832 km long coastal waters.
National Aquaculture Development Plan-NADP
The government released a multi-cooperation framework of Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan-MSDP in August in 2018. To give the aquaculture sector a conducive policy framework, Myanmar Sustainable Aquaculture Programme (MYSAP) and Department of Fisheries (DoF) started drafting National Aquaculture Development (NADP) in February 2018. The DoF finalized the draft of the NADP in line with the MSDP in March in 2020, and it has been under implementation.
The benefits resulting from the fish farming with regard to the MSDP are development through inclusiveness, income generation by export, creation of job opportunities, the security of food and nutrition and conservation of the natural environment.
Saltwater fish farming sees signs of progress in the future
The saltwater fish farming in Myanmar is not as far developed as in its neighbouring countries. Myanmar should exploit the weaknesses the other countries faced in the saltwater fish farming to its advantage. There is much potential for the extension of saltwater fish farming in the country in the future. In the past decades, prawn ponds were dug, and the prawns were bred in some neighbouring countries after clearing mangrove. The prawn farming was carried out with the excessive use of chemicals, making a healthy profit only in the short run, but later resulting in environmental degradation due to the waste disposal and chemical residues. Therefore the attention of the prawn farmers has turned to the ways not to harm the natural environment in order to enjoy much profit from prawn farming. Closed-recirculating shrimp farming system has come into extensive use. It means that the wastewater disposed of the ponds is systematically purified, and then it is re-circulated and reused in the ponds.
Saltwater fish farming techniques
In the sector of saltwater fish farming, it is divided into two types of aquaculture—land-based aquaculture and sea-based aquaculture. Moreover, there are two types of fish farming related to ecosystems, the first is an autotrophic type, and the second is a heterotrophic type. It is unnecessary for seaweed, mollusc, oyster and other shellfish to feed them food separately and they can grow consuming nitrogen, phosphorous and organic parts in the water. Suitable feedstuffs are needed to be fed in the farming of fish, prawn and crabs.
In the autotrophic type, there may be a little pollution due to the genetic causes of the animals that are bred in the aquaculture. Carbon sink fishery is related to seaweed farming. Carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous from the surrounding water are absorbed in the digestive system. The carbon dioxide level has been high in the atmosphere, and there have been changes in climate due to the excessive use of fossil fuel and deforestation in the world.
The plants can digest inorganic carbon by photosynthesis and then reproduce oxygen. Approximately 71% of Earth’s surface, an area of some 361 million square kilometres (139.5 million square miles), is covered by ocean. The algae covering an area of 1 square kilometre produces 375 tonnes of carbon in a year changing from inorganic carbon to organic carbon, according to the calculation of the scholars. Algae are of great importance in the process of carbon circulation. Consequently, global warming can be controlled to some extent by keeping up the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
85% of pollution has resulted from aquatic animal farming while the remaining 15% of pollution is affected by the outside environment. The root causes in the pollution of aquatic animal farming are the disposal of excretion/secretion and feed residues. The instigations of the outside environment, including the wastes disposal from the cities and the factories are also one of the factors in the pollution of aquatic animal farming.
Bad effects of water pollution
An accumulation of the disposal of wastes and feed residues in an aquatic animal farming causes physical and chemical changes in the water and then eutrophication along with increased nitrogen and phosphorous apart from the composition of soluble inorganic and organic substances. Moreover, it can cause red tide, which is a phenomenon caused by algal blooms that may also deplete oxygen in the waters and/or release toxins that may cause illness in humans and other animals.
Moreover, the residues of antibiotics and insecticides bring bad effect on harmonious ecosystems of surrounding water area. If the aquatic animal farming is carried out in the undisciplined and excessive manner, it will hurt the capacity of decontaminating ecosystems of the natural surrounding water area, thereby undermining sustainable development, bringing about problems and difficulties sooner or later.
So as to ensure harmonious natural environment ecosystems in breeding outside new species, the farmers should consider whether outside new species are in harmony with the regional environment, whether they eat species, whether they eat competitively between them and whether they mix with others. Special attention must be paid to the fact that the aquatic animals will not get away from farming to the natural water area.
Environmental capacity for aquaculture does not cause unacceptable ecological impacts in a particular area or water body. For that reason, if the aquaculture area and zone are designated, maximum farming size, effects on socio-economic life and ecology, wastes coming from the aquatic farming, the volume of feed residue, surrounding water area, and responsiveness to ecology should be taken into consideration.
The ways how to carry out equitable development in the sustainability of saltwater fish farming are to the following.
– Carrying out fishing farming in accord with appropriate rules and regulations
– Designating saltwater fish farming zones in different places by using scientific means
– Implementing emergency warning system and providing technical assistance in the precautionary measures against the possible spread of fish-related disease and natural disasters
– Making use of effective methods related to physics and chemistry (For example; changing water from the farming, ventilation and water sanitation process)
– Making use of biological means (For example; cultivation of bacteria and sea algae)
– Mixed farming (For example; scallop and algae, prawn and algae and fish and algae)
– Breeding sea algae and shell animals capable of protecting eutrophication that can help reduce the emission of carbon dioxide
– Putting the species of fish, prawn and crabs into culture-based capture
– Creating artificial fish reef can increase water resources and prevent excessive capture of fish, thereby developing amateur fishing appropriate for ecosystems
The artificial fish reef can be seen in more than 30 countries, including developed countries like the United States, China and Japan. There are more than 5,000 artificial fish reefs in Japan, covering 12% of the offshore fishing area. About 50 million people from the United States go to artificial fish reefs on the purpose of amateur fishing. The income the local people received triples to that from conventional fishing.
Aquaculture to develop enormously
To sum up, Good Aquaculture Practice (GAqP) must be followed for ensuring equitable and sustainable development in the aquaculture. If so, it will bring about many benefits, thereby manufacturing safe and quality fishery products and finally creating a win-win situation.
All in all, our country is currently setting up plans to breed other commercial aquatic species in the saltwater fish farming in addition to the farming of giant sea perch, saltwater prawn, soft crabs, blood cockle, lobster and sea algae. Our country has many places where we can carry out aquaculture in the freshwater and saltwater areas along the coast. The saltwater fish farming will be able to enormously develop if basic facilities in those areas, modern breeding methods and human resources become better. Translated by Htut Htut (Twantay)