Establishment of Fish Protected Areas in Marine Waters
Department of Fisheries has been conducting the fisheries management and conservation fisheries resources in accordance with the Myanmar Marine Fisheries Law. In the section 22 of the Myanmar Marine Fisheries Law, it is prescribed that the Director General shall determine the following:-
a. type of fishery, volume of business and duties and fees;
b. method of catching fish, period of fishing, species of fish permitted to catch, size of fish, fishing gears and fishing grounds;
c. licence conditions.
Also it is prescribed in section 23, the Director General may, for the purpose of carrying out the fishery systematically, and for the conservation and protection of the fish, issue conditions, prohibitions, orders, and directives relating to fishery.
To conduct the conservation and management of fisheries waters, Department of Fisheries set up the objectives as the following:-
a. Promulgation of fisheries laws and implementation of action plans in line with the sustainable development goals.
b. The implementation of research and development, extension and awareness services, and human resources development oriented towards sustainable use of fisheries resources.
The followings are the plans of Department of Fisheries to implement the objectives;
a. Promotion of conservation areas for marine and freshwater fisheries resources in critically important habitats.
b. Promotion of community fisheries organizations for improved fisheries resource management and rural development.
c. Conservation of indigenous fish species and conducting research in breeding and culture of those species.
Department of Fisheries initiated the identification of fish protected areas in marine water since 1993 . These areas located in five coastal state and regions namely Ayeyawady, Mon, Tanintharyi, Rakhine and Yangon. Some of
marine fish such as Crab, are spawning in the brackish water areas as though the some brackish water areas were identified as Crabs Protected Areas. DoF has identified seven Fish protected areas, twelve Crab Protected Areas, one Lobster Protected Area and one Indian Threadfin Protected Area.
To be effective the measures of fisheries management, fisheries co-management is flexible and cooperative management of aquatic resources by the user groups (Fishers and Fisheries Stakeholders) and government. Both the fishery community and government are involved during the decision making, imple- mentation and enforcement processes. DoF has identified three LMMA-Locally Managed Marine Area in Tanintharyi Region for the implementation of fisheries co-management since 2017.In these areas, rules and regulations were prescribed by the consultation between local fishers and DoF.
There are many facts and procedures to establish the Fish Protected Area. It needs to be attached with the objectives and benefits of Fish Protected Area, the recommendation of village administrator, township office of Depart- ment of General Administration, the meeting minutes of DoF with the fishers, the field survey record of DoF and University, map of fish protected area, the recommendation of Regional/ State/ District/Township office of DoF, MFF and agreement of Regional or State Governments and the rules which identified to follow in those specific area.
The establishment of Fish Protected Area is based on the proposal of fishers according to their experience in fishing grounds. In some fish protected areas and fisheries co-management areas, it is regulated for the limitation on kinds and numbers of fishing gears as well as fishing season. Some kinds of fishing gears such as Drift net and Set net are restricted by mesh size and length. Some fishing gears are prohibited.
The weakness of establishment of Fish Protected Area is the insufficient Monitoring, Control and Surveillance –MCS System by DoF and local fishers. The Staffs of DoF are not supported sufficient facilities for implementation of MCS and MCS activities is not completely covered the whole fish protected areas to prevent, deter and combat IUU fishing. Staffs of DoF also are not able to conduct the monitoring and evaluation for the establishment of these areas.
Department of Fisheries has been trying to extend the fish protected area, fisheries co-management area and locally managed marine area within marine waters. However, DoF have to focus not only on the wide nation spread of Fish Protected Areas but also the coverage of MCS system. DoF has been trying to reach the target of National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan (NBSAP)