Support to fisheries sector amidst COVID-19 should not be delayed

The government is planning to provide financial support to the fisheries sector, which is facing the economic challenges caused by COVID-19.
Fishermen and aquaculture farmers have suffered from decrease in fishing price and suspension of export amidst COVID-19 while fishing suffer from lack of bait, ice, and gear and limited transportation services. Removing the barriers for the farmers is extremely important and the authorities need to intervene in order to guarantee the continuity of fish production and survival of the fish farming communities. Under the COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan, the government is planning to distribute fingerlings worth K40,000 to each acre of fish pond across the country, and the aid will reach about 150,000 acres of fish farms.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation has submitted a proposal to the government to provide loans to sea fishing and aquaculture sectors including cold storage factories to help tackle the negative impact of the COVID-19 outbreak so as to recover quickly during the post COVID-19 period.
Needless to say, farmers of all sorts play an integral role in ensuring food security and in earning foreign currency for our country. Therefore, in the short-term, they must be given all necessary assistance promptly. We suggest that assistance including SME loans for the fish farmers should not be delayed.
Our country has the largest fishery resources in Asean, but productivity is the lowest. Vietnam produces around US$10 billion [14 trillion kyats] worth of marine products [annually]. But, our production is worth just $720 million [1 trillion kyats]. In our fishing industry, we now have many factories that meet European Union norms.
While our understanding of the implications of the pandemic is still incomplete, there is a need to look at the international market. We should also seek ways to effectively support the export sector, which can recover quickly and will bring quick wins in our country’s economic recovery.
As the fisheries sector plays a vital role in food and livelihood security, we emphasize the need for rapid mobilization by all parties in support of the fisheries sector.
Short-term responses must be swift and targeted to the most vulnerable. In the longer-term, there is a need to develop a coordinated response and support network to transform existing institutions, supply chains, and food systems in ways that improve conditions and resilience of the fisheries sector.

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