02 March 20 - Source: www.mmtimes.com- The Fisheries Department declared a second marine protected area in Tanintharyi Region to protect endangered fish species and marine habitats.
The new conservation area covers the coastal waters between Kawthoung township and Kau-ye Island, the department 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.
Its mangroves, coral reefs and sea grass beds serve as nurseries and spawning areas for fish. Dugong and whale sharks are among its inhabitants.
Lampi Island in the Andaman Sea was Myanmar's first island national park and marine protected area. It is the "Mother island" of the Moken, the sea gypsies who roamed the Andaman Sea with their traditional boats and now live in the park. It was declared an ASEAN Heritage Park in 2003.
Myanmar has declared an international obligation to protect 10 percent of its coastal and marine areas.
The department said it will propose a dozen more marine-protected areas across the country.
Environmentalists and conservationists said Myanmar's marine resources are under severe stress due to over exploitation.
Recent studies said Myanmar coral reefs declined by 70pc in Rakhine State and Tanintharyi, in particular the offshore islands of the Myeik Archipelago, considered the most favourable 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.
Coral reefs, mangroves and sea grasses are essential to the survival of fish species and other marine animals and organisms.
Myanmar's coastline stretches 2831 kilometres, 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.
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