Source: The Myanmar Times

Date: 16 January, 2018


The number of fishermen killed on the high seas is increasing in Mon State, and in most cases the perpetrators are not brought to justice, according to data from Ye township police.

Last year, 47 fishermen were killed while working at sea, more than the 45 cases reported the previous year, according to the data.

"Most of the cases happened while they were drinking after a long day's work. As they are in an enclosed working space, murder cases happen," Khin Nyo, police chief of Ye township. "In some cases, fishermen are bullied by their supervisor."

U Zaw Min Oo, spokesman of Ye's Department of Fisheries, said the sea is a conducive place for murder since the fishermen are under pressure to increase their catch and they have to stay at sea for a long time. Sometimes arguments and misunderstandings happen and killings result.

"We are encouraging fishermen to report cases of bullying while at sea and urge fishing boat owners to actively help resolve this problem," he said.

In one case of bullying on December 27, a fisherman was found floating at sea by passing fishing boats. He was rushed to a hospital in Kyaik Ka Me township unconscious and slipped into coma. But his condition got better a week later.

"I worked in the sea for six months and was hit by the leader of the workers on the ship twice a day. So I escaped by swimming," said Phyo Ko Ko, a fishermen.

He tried to escape twice but was caught by the leader. The first time he was caught, he was not given food for four days.

"I decided to run away the second time after they starved me and it was the last chance to escape, I thought," he added.

Dr Than Htay, doctor in charge of Kyaik Ka Me general hospital, said the fisherman need a long rest and time to heal wounds.

"If he was able to get the support of other fishermen while he was being bullied, his condition wouldn't worsen like this, but he can't. It's a kind of human trafficking" said U Hla Aye, a resident of Ye.

The owner of the fishing vessel in which Phyo Ko Ko used to work is paying the cost of his treatment and hospitalisation. He did not sue the fisherman leader who bullied him and the latter remains free Phyo Ko Ko said he was afraid to sue and it was the responsibility of the owner to take legal action.

Ye is a town in the southern end of Mon State and the principal town of Ye township of Mawlamyine. The town is on the Ye River which drains into the Gulf of Martaban, and is surrounded by the Tenasserim Hills in the east.

The town's economy is mainly based on betel nut, rubber, fisheries, and trade. Ye is on the Mawlamyaing-Dawei rail line, and has a seaport. The majority of the people in Ye are ethnic Mon.