Myanmar cracks down on illegal fishing in Myeik

2-rakhine-fishermen Fishermen in Rakhine unload their catch. Photo - EPA

​04 MAR 2020- Source: Myanmar Times -The government will set up a vessel-monitoring system control centre (VMS) in Myeik city in Tanintharyi Region in an effort to combat illegal fishing, a senior Fisheries Department official said.

U Than Chaung, head of the department in Tanintharyi, said the system will be able to identify fishing vessels that are operating legally in the area.

"All fishing vessels will have to enter specified checkpoints for mandatory inspections, and we will be able to determine whether they have the necessary permits," he said.

The VMS control centre can prevent illegal fishing, he added.

The centre, which is under construction in Myeik, can monitor the movements of not only vessels off Tanintharyi but also across the nation.

The three-storey centre will take one year to construct and will be paid for by the regional government.

The Tanintharyi coast in southern Myanmar is the longest of the country's three coasts.

More than 1,500 fishing and carrier boats and 47,000 fishermen operate off the Tanintharyi coast, according to the department.

On Monday, the department announced a second marine-protected area in Tanintharyi to boost efforts to save endangered fish and marine habitats.

The area covers the coastal waters between Kawthoung township and Kau-ye island, it said in a statement.

Myanmar Marine Fisheries Law prohibits commercial fishing in the protected zone, and villagers living there must engage only in regulated and sustainable fishing.

The department said the protected area is of international significance because of its biodiversity, including several newly discovered fish species.

Environmentalists and conservationists said Myanmar's marine resources are under severe stress due to overexploitation.

Recent studies said Myanmar coral reefs declined by 70 percent in Rakhine State and Tanintharyi, in particular the offshore islands of the Myeik archipelago, considered the most favorable grounds for coral.

Fish inhabiting the surface waters of Myanmar declined by about 80pc between 1980 and 2018, and there was a steep drop in commercially important fish on the seabed, according to a 2019 report on research by Myanmar and Norwegian scientists.

The estimated one million tonnes of surface fish in 1979-80 dropped by up to 80pc by 2018, the report said.

Myanmar coastline stretches 2831 kilometers, from the Nat River, which forms the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar, to Kawthoung town, which borders Thailand. On its southern coastline lies the Myeik archipelago of more than 800 islands. – Translated

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