Conservation group proposes marine national park on Rakhine coast

w_55613088 A fisherman throws a net to catch fish in the Kalandan river near Sittwe, Rakhine State, in November 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE

23 JUN 2020 - Source: Myanmar Times - A local conservation group wants an island and a river in Rakhine State to be designated a marine national park to protect and conserve the area.

The two sites are Nanthar Island and the Mayyu estuary in Sittwe and Rathedaung townships – the sixth Ramsar Site in Myanmar, said Daw Thiri Dawei Aung, executive director of the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association. 

The areas are natural havens for migratory birds and critically endangered birds, tortoises, and dolphins, and were internationally recognised as the sixth Ramsar Site in Myanmar on June 22. A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, which is an inter-governmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESCO. 

"We're trying to get it designated as a marine national park," said Daw Thiri Dawei Aung. It would be managed by the government, and more resources would be allocated for its conservation and protection. 

"It was recognised by the Forestry Department as a proposed national park in 2019, but it's yet to become fully protected," she said. "We are taking comments from local people in the area and working with the department to have it fully protected." 

The only marine national park in Myanmar is Lampi Marine National Park, which comprises a group of islands in the Mergui archipelago in Tanintharyi Region. 

Daw Thiri Dawei Aung said endangered turtles also lay eggs and breed, and dugongs have been spotted occasionally in the area.

Nanthar Island and Mayyu estuary comprise 3603 hectares, and has more than 60 species of birds, including the critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper. It is a breeding ground for green sea turtles, leatherback turtle, tortoises, and the Ayeyarwady dolphin. 

Other Ramsar sites in Myanmar include Moe Yun Gyi wildlife sanctuary, Indawgyi Lake, Meinmahla Kyun wildlife sanctuary, the Gulf of Mottama, and Inlay Lake. - Translated

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