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Part I Overview and main indicators

  1. Country brief
  2. General geographic and economic indicators
  3. FAO Fisheries statistics

Part II Narrative (2010)

  1. Production sector
    • Marine sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
      • Fishing communities
    • Inland sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
      • Fishing communities
    • Aquaculture sub-sector - NASO
    • Recreational sub-sector
  2. Post-harvest sector
    • Fish utilization
    • Fish markets
  3. Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector
    • Role of fisheries in the national economy
    • Trade
    • Food security
    • Employment
    • Rural development
  4. Trends, issues and development
    • Constraints and opportunities
    • Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies
    • Research, education and training
      • Research
      • Education and training
    • Foreign aid
  5. Institutional framework
  6. Legal framework
  7. References

Additional information

  1. FAO Thematic data bases
  2. Publications
  3. Meetings & News archive

Part I Overview and main indicators

Part I of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile is compiled using the most up-to-date information available from the FAO Country briefs and Statistics programmes at the time of publication. The Country Brief and the FAO Fisheries Statistics provided in Part I may, however, have been prepared at different times, which would explain any inconsistencies.

Country briefPrepared: February 2012

Myanmar is the largest country in Southeast Asia. Abundant natural resources in freshwater and brackish-water fisheries contribute significantly to its food security. Fishery products are a staple diet, a major source of animal protein and its per capita consumption of 42.5 kg/year in 2007 is one of the highest in the world.

Development indicators from 2009 illustrate the continuing situation of poverty in Myanmar, where more than 30 percent of the 50 million population live below the poverty line and life expectancy is 10 years below the average for the East Asia and Pacific region.

Myanmar’s total fish production was estimated at 3.84 million tonnes in 2010. Capture fisheries contributed 3.06 million tonnes and aquaculture 0.78 million tonnes. Some 32 920 fishing vessels were reported of which 52 percent were not equipped with an engine. The fishery and aquaculture sector provided direct employment to 3.16 million people, 22 percent full-time jobs and the rest part-time and occasional works. Fisheries exports were valued at USD 497 million in 2010. Although the volume of fishery exports has steadily increased since Cyclone Nargis in 2008, per unit export prices have fallen following the global financial crisis.

China is the largest importer of Myanmar’s fisheries products, particularly marine fisheries, based on Chinese consumers preference for saltwater fish species and shrimp, rather than the freshwater fish species traditionally farmed and caught in Myanmar. Potential exists for aquaculture farmers to grow saltwater species but this area needs further research and development. Some raw materials are purchased by China and Japan for processing into value-added fisheries products.

Myanmar exported between 5 and 10 percent of its production to the EU in 2010. As the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is drawing up safety guidelines based on EU standards, benefits will accrue for access to markets with requirements for quality assurance. Another area of cooperation between Myanmar and the EU is on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) compliant certification for fishery exports.

In the early 1990s, aquaculture production began to increase, rising rapidly with annual average growth rate of 23 percent during the decades. By 2008, aquaculture companies had established niche export markets in East Asia, Near East and the United Kingdom. Some aquaculture processing companies successfully obtained HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) certification. Export demand contributed to the growth of aquaculture production. Sectoral development benefited from vertical integration which also allowed companies to capture the value-added at all stages of aquaculture production, improving profit margins and competitiveness of aquaculture exports.

The coastal fishing communities faced major set-backs following Cyclone Nargis. Efforts were made to address the vulnerabilities of the coastal communities, especially mangrove ecosystems and the fishers dependent on these resources for their livelihood. Climate change and the increasing incidence of severe weather episodes will place fishing communities and their investments in physical infrastructure and aquaculture biomass at risk and will require long-term adaptation strategies.

No reliable fisheries statistical system is in place for capture fisheries. Productivity in the capture fisheries sector remains relatively underdeveloped, although capture fisheries production continues to be a major contributor of fish production with a share of close to 80 percent in 2010. Public support for private sector investments into post-harvest facilities has encouraged growth in fish production. Much of the investments are in support of businesses engaged in shrimp and fish exports.

Aquaculture generated export earnings and employment in the fish processing sector, through government and international support primarily in the area of post-harvest quality assurance and certification.
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1 - Myanmar -General Geographic and Economic Data

Area: 1 246 700 Km2
Water area: 330 000 km2
Shelf area: 51 000 km2
Length of continental coastline: 1 650 Km
Population (2011): 18 000 000
GDP at purchaser’s value: 107.3 billion (USD)
GDP per head: 8 200 USD
Agriculture GDP: 9.6%
Fisheries GDP: 3.5%

Key statistics

GDP (current US$)62 601millionsWorld Bank. 2015
GDP per capita (current US$)1 161US$World Bank. 2015
Agriculture, value added26.75% of GDPWorld Bank. 2015

Source: FAO Country Profile

FAO Fisheries statisticsThe tables and graphs in this section are based on statistics prepared by the FAO Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit and disseminated in 2012.

Table 2 - Myanmar - FAO fisheries statistics

      1980 1990 2000 2010 2011 2012
PRODUCTION (thousand tonnes) 580.0 743.8 1192.1 3913.9 4149.8 4464.4
    Inland 151.2 144.6 290.0 1774.8 1924.1 2073.4
    Marine 428.8 599.2 902.1 2139.1 2225.7 2391.0
  Aquaculture 2.8 7.1 98.9 850.7 816.8 885.2
    Inland 2.8 7.1 93.9 772.4 760.9 826.9
    Marine 0.0 0.0 5.0 78.3 55.9 58.2
  Capture 577.2 736.7 1093.2 3063.2 3333.0 3579.3
    Inland 148.4 137.5 196.1 1002.4 1163.2 1246.5
    Marine 428.8 599.2 897.1 2060.8 2169.8 2332.8
TRADE (USD million)            
  Import 0.0 2.4 0.5 10.1 14.5 0.0
  Export 10.0 15.7 183.7 495.2 555.4 0.0
EMPLOYMENT (thousands) 361.1 581.0 3094.7 3160.1 3164.6 3193.6
  Aquaculture     448.0 211.5 211.8 214.4
  Capture 581.0 2646.7 2948.6 2952.8 2979.2
    Inland 104.5   1564.1 1565.8 1581.2
    Marine 476.4   1384.4 1387.0 1398.0
FLEET(thousands boats) ... ... 25.3 32.9 31.6 30.3
  Fish food supply (thousand tonnes in live weight equivalent) 499.7 639 851.8 2649.0 2897  
  Per Capita Supply (kilograms) 14.5 15.2 17.6 51.0 55.3  
  Fish Proteins (grams per capita per day) 3.9 3.9 4.5 13.3 14.5  
  Fish/Animal Proteins (%) 48.0 52.6 43.8 41.6 42.5  
  Fish/Total Proteins (%) 9.5 10.1 9.0 16.5 17.6  
Source: FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics            
1) Excluding aquatic plants            
2) Due to roundings total may not sum up

Figure 1 - Myanmar - Total fishery production
Figure 1 - Myanmar - Total fishery production
Figure 2 - Myanmar - Composition of capture production - 2012
Figure 2 - Myanmar - Composition of capture production - 2012
Figure 3 - Myanmar - Production of aquatic plants
Figure 3 - Myanmar - Production of aquatic plants

Figure 4 - Myanmar - Capture production
Figure 4 - Myanmar - Capture production

Figure 5 - Myanmar - Major species groups in capture production
Figure 5 - Myanmar - Major species groups in capture production

Figure 6 - Myanmar - Aquaculture production
Figure 6 - Myanmar - Aquaculture production

Figure 7 - Myanmar - Major species groups in aquaculture production
Figure 7 - Myanmar - Major species groups in aquaculture production

Figure 8 - Myanmar- Import and export value of fish and fishery products
Figure 8 - Myanmar- Import and export value of fish and fishery products

Figure 9 - Myanmar – Major species groups in import
Figure 9 - Myanmar – Major species groups in import
Figure 10 - Myanmar – Major species groups in export
Figure 10 - Myanmar – Major species groups in export

Figure 11 - Myanmar - Per capita supply of fish and fishery products
Figure 11 - Myanmar - Per capita supply of fish and fishery products

Figure 12 — Myanmar - Composition of total fish food supply -2011
Figure 12 — Myanmar - Composition of total fish food supply -2011

Updated 2010Part II Narrative

Part II of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile provides supplementary information that is based on national and other sources and that is valid at the time of compilation (see update year above). References to these sources are provided as far as possible.

Production sectorMyanmar has a long shoreline as well as large river systems and extensive area of inland lakes and reservoirs. As a result, fisheries resources play an important role as a source of food, income and employment.Marine sub-sectorMyanmar has abundant marine wetland resources including mangrove forests, estuaries, delta systems, coral reefs, numerous islands mudflats and beaches. The coastal zone is still in good ecological condition. Coral reefs are abundant in the Myeik Archipelago. However, mangroves, that have provided invaluable ecological functions in the estuarine and delta areas, have come under pressure in past decades and in some areas, including the Ayeyardawady Delta, are now in a severely depleted condition.

The inshore marine fishery provides livelihood opportunities to many people through capture, processing and marketing. Inshore fishing is carried out by boats operating within five nautical miles of the coast in the northern area and ten nautical miles from the coast in the southern area. Fishing vessels range from traditional designed boats of less than 30 feet and/or using less than a 12 HP engine, to more commercial scale vessels. Typical fishing gears used inshore are drift nets, gill nets and long lines. Offshore vessels operate beyond the outer limit of the inshore fishing zone to the outer boundary of the EEZ. These boats are more than 30 feet long and/or use more than a 12 HP engine. Fishing gears used include trawl nets, purse seines, and long lines. Catch profileThe table below details the marine fish catch breakdown in Yangon* for 2005.

Table 3 - Myanmar - Marine fish landings in Yangon, 2005

# Species Catch (tonnes) %
1 Johnius and Pennahia sp: 9 810.48 19.02
2 Miscellaneous 7 528.77 14.59
3 Shrimp and Prawn 5 898.08 11.43
4 Trichius sp: 5 007.03 9.71
5 Chrysochir aureus 4 726.22 9.16
6 Nemipterus sp: 3 040.45 5.89
7 Cogresox sp: 2 456.48 4.76
8 Tenualosa ilisha 2 341.59 4.54
9 Arius sp: 2 326.63 4.51
10 Cynoglossus sp: 2 277.35 4.41
11 Chrysocheir and Otolither sp: 1 145.78 2.22
12 Polynemus indicus 841.08 1.63
13 Ilisha sp: 815.29 1.58
14 Saurida sp: 780.16 1.51
15 Pampus sp: 559.04 1.08
16 Pomadasy sp: 537.39 1.04
17 Megalapis cordyla 415.09 0.81
18 Loligo sp: 402.41 0.78
19 Rastrelliger sp: 242.71 0.47
20 Sepia sp: 163.38 0.32
21 Leiognathus sp: 149.39 0.29
22 Lutjanus sp: 53.07 0.10
  Scomberomorus sp: 43.99 0.09
23 Chirocentrus sp.: 27.44 0.05
24 Epinephelus sp.: 2.08 0.00
  TOTAL 51 591.38 100.00

*Formerly known as Rangoon.
Landing sitesAround Yangon, the main fish landing sites are at Pazuntaung Nyaungdan and Annawa with a large fish market at San Pya in Alone township. Other major landing sites are found along the coast, at Thandwe, Mawlamyine, Myeik and Kawthoung. Many of the smaller jetties in the Ayeyarwady Delta, used for landing fish, were damaged or destroyed by Cyclone Nargis in May 2008. Fishing practices/systemsDepartment of Fisheries (DoF) statistics for 2008-09 show a total of 30 795 licensed boats, (28 697 inshore and 2 098 offshore). This is a reduction from the number of vessels in 2007-08, (31 619) probably due to the impact of Cyclone Nargis.

Marine fishing gear can be classified into commercial gears, such as trawl net, purse seines, driftnet and gillnet, and traditional gears; including hook-and-line, cast net, bag net, trammel gill net, lift net and traps. However, the bulk of landings derive from trawls, purse seines, drift nets and gill nets. Otter bottom trawl nets are the main gear used to catch demersal finfish and penaeid prawns, particularly off the coast of Rakhine State. There are two main types of purse seines nets employed in Myanmar waters; the fish purse seine, which is used to catch small pelagic species; and the anchovy purse seine, for anchovies in coastal waters, especially in the northern sector of Rakhine state. Driftnet and gillnets are also important in coastal fisheries, and used selectively. The finfish drift net and gillnets mainly target higher valued commercial pelagic fish species, although gillnets set by coastal fishermen mainly catch demersal fish species like marine catfish and jewfish. The shrimp drift and gillnets are actually trammel gillnets, and are employed to catch the more valuable species of shrimp, like Peneaus merguiensis. They are also used to target Hilsa as they migrate through the main river channels of the Ayeyarwady Delta.
Main resourcesMyanmar’s coastal fishing areas can be divided into three zones: North Rakhine State; Ayeyarwady Delta; and Mergui Archipelago. In 1980-1983, FAO experts estimated the maximum sustainable yield for Myanmar’s marine fisheries at 1.05 m tonnes. Since that time, few stock assessments have been conducted and information on fish stock status is limited. Some fishery indicators indicate a declining trend in marine resource abundance. The size composition of the catch of some commercially important fishes, such as pomfret and hilsa shad, has shown a reduction of the average length of captured fish, and the Catch Per Unit of Effort (CPUE) for bottom trawl fisheries has also declined steadily. It can therefore be assumed that some of the marine fishery stocks in Myanmar are being over-exploited. This seems consistent with the fact that the current landings are 50% higher than the estimated MSY, although the estimation might need to be revised as ecosystems and their productivity may have changed over the last 30 years.Management applied to main fisheriesCommercial fishing vessels, such as trawlers and fish purse seiners, are prohibited from fishing less than 5 nautical miles (n.mi.) from shore. Identified nursery areas are protected to ensure survival of juveniles of commercially important fish species. This includes one fishing ground in Rakhine area, four fishing grounds in Ayeyarwady, two fishing grounds in Mon and two fishing grounds in the Tanintharyi region, which have all been declared as closed fishing areas for 3 months (June to August) annually.

Two fishing zones have been established through a licensing scheme whereby zones are designated for specific fishing gear, classes of fishing vessels and ownership. The two fishing zones are: Fishing Zone 1, extending from the shoreline to 5 n.mi. in the northern area, and to 10 n.mi. in the southern coastal area; and Fishing Zone 2, from the outer limit of the Fishing Zone 1 out to the EEZ limit.

Marine fishing activities are controlled by the licensing and registration system under the current Fisheries Law and the Foreign Investment Law 1995. Pair trawling, electric fishing, fishing using poisons, chemicals and explosives, and motorized push nets are all banned in Myanmar. A moratorium has been placed on new or additional fishing licences. This is to ensure that the current fishing pressure on coastal fisheries resources will not be increased. Current licences are issued annually, (1 Sept - 31 Aug for the deep-sea fishery, and 1 Apr - 31 Mar for the coastal fishery). The entry of new individuals into the fishing industry is controlled. Fishers must be registered and anybody working, living or staying on a fishing vessel must have a fisher’s registration card.

Currently, there are neither individual transferable quotas (IQTs) nor total allowable catch (TAC) regulations in Myanmar's fisheries industry. Foreign fishing vessels, including joint ventures must obtain permission from the Department of Fisheries to operate in the fishery.
Fishing communitiesIn most of the coastal areas, fishing communities lack basic infrastructure and services. Electricity and freshwater supplies are absent in many areas. The local people of the Mergui Archipelago are an ethnic minority called the Moken who are a sea-dwelling people and still follow a traditional way of life. Many households in the Ayeyarwady Delta are heavily dependent upon fishing for subsistence and income generation. Landlessness is at a high level (50%) in the Delta, making households especially vulnerable to falling catches, as they have few alternatives to ensure their subsistence. Transportation in this region is mainly by small boats and canoes through the network of canals and streams. Cyclone Nargis destroyed many of the small coastal villages and an estimated 28 000 fishers were killed in the storm, highlighting the exposed nature of many of these coastal communities. Some larger towns exist in this area; Laputta and Bogale being important fishing towns. Dry season freshwater supplies are limited due to salt-water intrusion. Coastal fisheries are important in North Rakhine State (NRS). Geographically separated from the rest of the country by mountains in the east, the inhabitants of NRS share close cultural links with Bangladesh. NRS has one of the highest population densities in Myanmar. The economic and social indicators of NRS show the local population as being some of the most vulnerable in the country.
Inland sub-sectorCatch profileThe following species are commercially important as exports as well as vital for food security in many areas; Mystus aye, Wallago attu, Channa striatus, Channa punctata, Pangasius pangasius, Anabas testudineus, Clarias spp., Sperata seenghala, Notopterus notopterus, Mystus bleekeri, Awaous guamensis, Heteropneustes fossilis, Amblypharyngodon microlepis, Ompok pabda, Puntius spp, Trichogaster spp. In addition Hilsa spp feature in the freshwater catches as they are caught during river migrations.

The table below shows freshwater fish species appearing in rural markets as observed by FAO in a review of inland fisheries and aquaculture in 2003.

Table 4 – Myanmar – Freshwater fish species in rural markets - 2003

Common Name Scientific name Common Name Scientific name
Featherback Ompok/Notopterus Black shark minnow Morulius chrysophekadion
Snakeskin gourami Trichogaster Common carp Cyprinus carpio
Snakehead Channa spp. Rohu Labeo rohita
Spiny eel Mastacembelus Mrigal Cirrhinus mrigala
Catfish Clarias spp. Grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idellus
Glass fish Amblypharyngodon Loaches Cobitidae
Rasbora etc. Rasbora spp., Danio Large river catfish Pangassius and Selonia
Gobies (sand) Glossobobius spp. Wallago Wallago attu
Freshwater eel Anguilla spp. Atyid shrimp Attidae spp.
Various barbs Puntius spp. Freshwater prawn Macrobrachium rosenbergii
Rohtee Osteobrama spp. Freshwater crabs Paratelphusa spp.
Hilsa Tenualosa ilisha    

Landing sitesThere do not appear to be any large freshwater landing sites, and fish are landed in the thousands of small villages around the country. From there, they are bought by village collectors who sell them on to larger scale middlemen in the townships. In some areas, these collectors also arrange for ice and fish boxes to be distributed. Fishing practices/systemsThe fishing methods and gear used in inland waters of Myanmar are diverse with many local adaptations. The tendered fisheries called ‘Inn’ use barrage fences and collection pens or traps. The peak season is when fish are migrating off the floodplain at the end of the wet season. There are currently 3 722 designated leasable fisheries in Myanmar, of which 2 084 were licensed in 2004-2005.

Stow nets, locally known as the Tiger Mouth Net are also important gears. These are large cone-shaped bag nets and are used on larger rivers. A boat is needed to operate this type of gear. The species targeted are mainly small prawns and miscellaneous fish.

Other inland fishing gears include: staked and drift gillnets, trammel nets, (consisting of three layers of netting); hand lines and longlines; cast nets; fish traps, (with many local variations on design and material); prawn traps; crab traps and eel traps.

Push net fishing is traditionally carried out widely in shallow water, lakes, small rivers and swamp areas to catch small miscellaneous fish and shrimp. Large-scale push nets operated by mechanized boats are prohibited in Myanmar. Beach seines and net fences are also commonly used.
Main resourcesMyanmar has extensive inland fisheries resources. Inland water bodies such as natural lakes, reservoirs, river systems and ponds cover around 8.2 million hectares of which 1.3 million hectares are permanent. The main rivers are the Ayeyarwady, Chindwin, Sittaung and Thanlwin. These rivers flow from north to south into the eastern part of the Bay of Bengal, Gulf of Mottama and Andaman Sea.

Myanmar has very large lake and reservoir resources estimated by DoF at about 115 867 ha. Previously, reservoir fisheries were encouraged in Myanmar. However, since 1995, fisheries activities in reservoirs have been banned through a decree by the Department of Irrigation that has jurisdiction over reservoirs in Myanmar. The DoF nevertheless continues with reservoir stocking for ‘conservation purposes’.

In 2004–2005, DoF replenished 109 million fish seed into reservoirs and dams, 63 million fish seed into lakes and rivers. 59 million fish seed were supplied to governmental organizations to replenish rice fields and natural water bodies to increase inland fish production and to maintain a sound biodiversity balance.
Management applied to main fisheriesMyanmar’s inland fisheries are managed on an ‘Open’ or ‘Leasable’ basis. Leasable fisheries are important fishing areas that are leased by the DoF to individuals. The DoF now issues leases for periods of up to nine years to promote improved long-term management. Open fisheries cover inland fisheries in all areas other than the leasable fisheries. Commercial scale fishing gears, such as Tiger mouth nets used in the Open fishery areas, require a licence issued on an annual basis by the DoF. They are allocated by a tender system. Licence fees vary between locations according to production and capacity. Licence fees for small gear are low or wavered for subsistence level fishing gears e.g. crab traps. Although policy is for complete licence coverage of all gear, attention focuses on those perceived as fishing for profit.Fishing communitiesMost lowland inland communities alternate between fishing and farming depending on the season. Fishing in the relatively few “open” waters (areas where fishing rights are not leased) is a last resort activity for many landless people
Aquaculture sub-sectorAquaculture contributes significantly to total inland fisheries production, accounting for 775 250 tonnes in 2008-09. The rohu (Labeo rohita) is the dominant species cultured and is exported in large quantities to the Middle East and South Asia. In 2008/09 more than 65 000 tonnes of Rohu valued at 73.5 m USD were exported. Other carps are also popular including: catla, common carp, grass carp, mrigal and silver carp. The culture of Pangasius hypophthalmus, tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), silver barb (Barbodes gonionotus) and pachu, Pirictus spp., is also common.

Strict control by township agriculture departments of the conversion of rice lands into fishponds, is a disincentive to the more widespread development of aquaculture in freshwater areas.

In coastal areas, the cage culture of Grouper from wild caught juveniles is carried out in Myeik, the southern coastal area. The most common species being cultured are the orange-spotted grouper (Epinephelus coioides) and the greasy grouper (E. tauvina). Tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) farms are located in Rakhine State, the Ayeyardwady Delta and Yangon Division, although many farms in the Delta were badly damaged by Cyclone Nargis in 2008. Since 2002 shrimp pond area has expanded slightly from 200 000 acres to 224 650 acres in 2008-09. Soft-shell crab farming has increased in popularity in coastal areas of Myanmar, particularly in the Ayeyarwady Delta, increasing pressure on wild stocks as hatchery produced seed is not yet available. The farming of the seaweed, Eucheuma cottonii and shellfish (Oysters and cockles), continues on a pilot scale.

The major freshwater fish seed producing area in Myanmar is in Kayan, east of Yangon, where 200 nursery farms covering 800 ha operate. A total of 26 freshwater fisheries stations operate under the Department of Fisheries. These hatcheries produced around 683 million freshwater fingerlings in 2008–2009. The main species were Rohu (517 million), Common carp (47 million), Grass carp (5.9 million), Catla (5 million), Mrigal (1.8 million), Tilapia (12.2 million), Silver carp (3.2 million), Big head (2.3 million), Striped catfish (10.8 million), Silver Barb (66.5 million) and Pachu (10.8 million). In addition, 45.6 million shrimp post larvae were produced by eight public hatcheries. Finally, a number of ornamental fish are cultured for export, including Pearl danio, Spotted danio, Stoliczka's barb, Pink Microrasbora and Asian Rummy nose.
Recreational sub-sectorRecreational fishing in Myanmar has not yet become established. However, in recent years there has been an increase in the number of foreign tourists visiting Myanmar and the pristine coral reefs in the Myeik archipelago offer excellent diving prospects. In addition, the unique lifestyles of fisher communities in Inle Lake and the Ayeyarwady Delta have tourism potential.
Post-harvest sectorFish utilizationAbout 80% of the fish landed in Myanmar are used for direct human consumption, mostly as fresh and chilled. About 10% of the catch is processed into fishmeal.

In 2008-09 there were 131 registered cold storage factories and 372 ice plants in the country. Of these, 89 cold stores and 145 ice plants are located in Yangon Division, followed by Rakhine (10 and 60) and Thanintharyi (20 and 42). The types of fisheries products produced by fish processing plants and factories from Yangon are shrimp block, shrimp headless and head on, chilled fish, fish fillet, fish paste, fish sauce, etc.
Fish marketsThe main wholesale fish markets are located in Yangon; Sanpya Fish Market, Pazuntaung Naungdan Fish Market and Annawa Fish Market.
Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sectorRole of fisheries in the national economyThe fishery sector is considered as the most important one after the agriculture sector to meet the protein requirements of the people of Myanmar as well as to provide opportunities for employment. The livestock and fisheries sector contributed to 7.2% of GDP in 1990-91, 7.9% in 1999-2000, 9.1% in 2005-2006 and 7.5 % in 2008-2009.Trade


Domestic demand for fisheries products remains high and the demand for cultured Rohu from South Asians living in Bangladesh or as migrant workers in the Middle East has been especially strong in recent years.


DOF statistics suggest that 166 110 tonnes of fisheries products were supplied to Yangon markets in 1999-2000 and this had risen to 235 110 tonnes in 2007-08. Supplies of fish to the townships and Yangon are through a complex chain of middlemen called collectors who often also provide credit to fishers or smaller traders.


Total fishery product exports amounted to roughly 9% of the total fisheries production.The top ten countries in terms of exports in 2008-2009 were: Singapore, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Kuwait, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, UAE and UK. The table below details the twenty most important fisheries exports in terms of their value.

Table 5 – Myanmar - Top twenty fishery exports items (2007-08

Rank Species Captured/Farmed Metric tonnes Value m USD
1 Rohu Farmed 65 652.15 73.50
2 Hilsa Captured 17 952.31 39.53
3 Tiger Shrimp Captured 4 299.18 36.50
4 White Pomfret Captured 7 903.80 34.02
5 Pink Shrimp Captured 10 375.55 30.64
6 Live Crab Captured 12 530.41 27.92
7 Ribbon Fish Captured 18 895.87 20.16
8 White shrimp Captured 3 174.44 18.41
9 Live Eel Captured 7 882.15 17.81
10 Rosy Jew Fish Captured 6 381.55 15.06
11 Dried Prawn Captured 3 164.56 13.35
12 Fish meal Captured 19 801.25 12.55
13 Giant Freshwater Prawn Captured 1 228.11 12.28
14 Yellow Croaker Captured 6 166.00 12.13
15 Tiger Shrimp Farmed 1 396.86 8.26
16 Snake-skin Gourami Captured 2 810.01 7.94
17 Tongue Sole Captured 4 634.97 7.03
18 Mrigal Farmed 4 360.63 6.90
19 Big eyed Croaker Captured 9 499.73 6.15
20 Live Lobster Captured 320.39 5.75

Food securityMyanmar’s coastal population relies heavily on aquatic products for income and food. In the Ayeyarwady Delta, many thousands of households depend on subsistence fishing to supplement their protein-poor rice-based diets. Subsistence fishing from lowland rice fields is also a significant source of animal protein for many rice farming and farm labouring households.EmploymentCommercial fishing operations offer employment to families living in the coastal areas. Often these families alternate between selling their labour to fishermen and farmers, depending on the season. The hatchery and pond aquaculture concentration around Twente and surrounding districts creates numerous employment opportunities. Damage to the fishing industry, shrimp farms and salt farms by Cyclone Nargis has reduced employment opportunities in the Ayeyarwady Delta significantly.Rural developmentMany of the coastal areas and remote inland areas remain under-developed and this constrains the benefits that local people can gain from involvement in the fisheries sector. There is a lack of tradition of small-scale aquaculture which could be a valuable means of diversifying rural farming practices.

A number of NGOs are showing an interest in fisheries and aquaculture for poverty alleviation. The Myanmar Fisheries Federation (MFF), part of the ASEAN Fisheries Federation, is also supporting aquaculture development in Myanmar, although efforts are focused more on inland areas.
Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunitiesThe total landing of marine fish is expected to increase through better exploitation of resources in the EEZ and deep-sea fishing. It is estimated that an additional one million tonnes of fish could be exploited annually from these sources. Landing from the inshore fisheries must be made more sustainable through sustainable management measures and policies imposed by the DoF. However, as a result of budget and human resource limitations, the DoF has not been involved in comprehensive resource monitoring, data collection, or fish stock assessment in recent years.

The growing population and economic activities such as tourism, ocean transportation, industrial and urban development are placing additional pressure on natural resources. The coastal areas in particular are under considerable pressure and protecting and maintaining mangrove areas is essential to sustain fisheries resources as well as protecting communities from future natural disasters.

Production from freshwater, brackish and marine aquaculture is expected to expand. However, as aquaculture develops, the prevention of the fish diseases is becoming a more difficult problem to manage.

The intermittent or non-existent electricity supply in many rural areas constrains the development of the fisheries sector as good post-harvest fish quality is difficult to maintain. There are relatively few fish processing plants which generate added value by producing fisheries products for the international export market. With increased technical capacity and the introduction of international quality control standards, facilities and processing procedures based on HACCP standards could be developed.
Government and non-government sector policies and development strategiesMarine Parks and Marine Reserves, together with fisheries protected areas, have been established under the Fisheries Law. Recently, the Lampi islands off the Tanintharyi coast have been gazetted as Marine Parks and Marine Reserves. The waters around the island area have been declared protected fisheries areas and the collection of marine flora and fauna is prohibited. The DoF continues activities for the conservation of turtles. Current regulations require the release of turtles caught accidentally, includes a ban on eating sea turtles, requires that all trawls are equipped with a Turtle Excluder Device (TEDs) in all fishing areas, and, encourages discarding old fishing gear.

The DoF aims to collect data from marine fisheries and provide the basis for effective monitoring and control of fisheries enforcement activities. However, the current capacity of the DoF makes this difficult to implement. Surveillance of marine fishing currently involves the Myanmar Navy; Myanmar Coast Guard; DoF; Myanmar Customs Department; and Myanmar Police Force. The DOF is also attempting to stop the illegal harvest of undersized aquatic animals for export, such as live river eels and mud crabs.

Following Cyclone Nargis, The Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries set up the recovery and rehabilitation committee for the fishery sector and the Department of Fisheries and Myanmar Fisheries Federation teamed up effectively to work to provide assistance to the affected communities. This involved the distribution of fishing boats with and without engines; fishing nets and gears; fish seed for restocking the affected areas; fuel supplies for fishing boats, cold store and ice plant rehabilitation and financial support to fish farmers and boat owners. FAO worked closely with Government in providing more than 45 000 families with replacement fishing gears, including push nets, cast nets, long lines, eel traps, prawn traps, fish processing gear and small fishing boats.

The DoF is the sole competent authority responsible for the safety and quality of fishery products. The DoF’s Inspection and Quality Control Division implements food safety management systems for inspection bodies and laboratory, respectively, and encourage and implement ISO 22000 for fish processing.
Research, education and trainingResearchThe Universities of Yangon and Mawlamyaing conduct research in fisheries. The DoF is also responsible for research including investigations into the status of the endangered Ayeyarwady Dolphin and coastal and inland fisheries management. 29 full time researchers were employed in 2003. The DoF also carries out a fish price survey in Yangon every year. In recent years SEAFDEC has assisted the DOF in carrying out research into coastal and offshore fisheries in Myanmar.Education and trainingMyanmar has a wide network of universities and colleges throughout the country. Yangon University, Mandalay University and Mawlamyine University all offer degree courses in fisheries. The Department of fisheries organizes regular short courses on aquaculture.Foreign aidFAO and UNDP have a long history of support to the development of the fisheries sector in Myanmar. Since 2008, a number of other international agencies and NGOs became involved in the fisheries sector through the Cyclone Nargis recovery efforts in the Ayeyarwady Delta. These included CESVI, Oxfam and Save the Children. Much of this work focused on the distribution of fisheries assets to households in the most severely affected coastal areas.

The Department of Fisheries of Myanmar is working closely in collaboration and coordination with FAO, NACA, SEAFDEC, JICA and other regional and international organizations related to fisheries in order to strengthen capacity building on improving fishery statistics collection and interpretation.
Institutional frameworkThe Department of Fisheries, headquartered in Yangon, currently has a staff of about 1 000. The administrative structure has four directorates dealing with capture fisheries, aquaculture, research and development and administration. The responsibilities of DOF for development and management in fisheries are as follows:
  • Conservation and rehabilitation of fishery resources;
  • Promotion of fisheries researches and surveys;
  • Collection and compilation of fishery statistics and information;
  • Extension services;
  • Supervision of fishery sectors;
  • Sustainability of fishery resources;
Its main activities are:
  • The issuing of licences for fisheries gear/vessels/sites and aquaculture sites/ventures;
  • The evaluation of sites for aquaculture or fisheries;
  • The production of fingerlings
  • The stocking of Open Water Fisheries (reservoirs, rivers and other water bodies e.g. community ponds);
  • Advising the Minister of Livestock and Fisheries and the Divisional and State Government on fisheries and aquaculture matters;
  • Regulating the proper conduct of fisheries and aquaculture (i.e. inspection of fishing gears/sites).
  • Inspecting the fish trade
  • Auctioning of Leasable Freshwater Fisheries (This is a key income generating activity for the DOF);
  • Administration of water bodies for aquaculture;
  • The collection and communication of aquaculture knowledge.
  • Training and extension.
In 1998, the Myanmar Fisheries Federation (MFF) was created from the Myanmar Fishery Association. The organization has national and local coverage; most of the larger farmers are members of the local MFF branch. A Central Executive Committee plays a coordinating role. Annual meetings are held in Yangon bringing together the local MFF branches including fishery operators, fish farmers and related industry representatives. MFF is able to support applications made by its members to undertake fisheries and aquaculture activities. MFF also supports applications to the Livestock and Fisheries Bank for loan applications. Following Cyclone Nargis, MFF has worked with many small-scale coastal fishers in the livelihood recovery effort.

Since 1998, most fishery business in Myanmar has been carried out by the private sector. Much of the state–owned infrastructure, e.g. fishing vessels, ice-plants, processing plants, cold stores, fishmeal plants, canning plants etc. have been sold or leased out to private owners.

Legal frameworkBetween 1989 and 1991 the government promulgated three fisheries laws, namely "Aquaculture fisheries law", "Myanmar marine fisheries law" and "Freshwater fisheries law". The development of trawling in shallow coastal waters led to considerable conflict between traditional fishermen and trawlers, leading to an amendment of the fisheries law to provide a more comprehensive legal framework to deal with this issue.

Under the Fishery Law a number of notifications have been promulgated, including the following:
  • The Fisheries notification on prohibition of fish importing’ lists fish species that may not be imported, exported, sold or kept in captivity;
  • Notification 2/92 protects spawners, breeders and fingerlings of freshwater fishes, specifying those species that it is forbidden to catch, export, kill or keep during the closed season;
  • Notifications 8/94 controls trade in mud crabs under section No. 35 of the Aquaculture Law;
  • Notification 9/94 defines the measuring systems for crabs, and sets limits;
  • Notifications 2/95 and 3/95 prohibit trade in spawners, breeders and juveniles of marine and freshwater prawns, which cannot be caught, exported, sold, killed or kept in captivity in the closed season;
  • Notification 5/2001 controls the import, export, culture, production, sale, propagation or possession of the African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) under Sections 35 and 20 of the Aquaculture Law;
  • The Notification for control of endangered fish species lists all the species of aquatic animals and fish that are protected and included in the list of endangered species in the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES);
  • Notification 2/2001 protects the Whale shark (Rhincodon typus), which is a CITES listed species.

Coates, D. 2002. Inland capture fishery statistics of Southeast Asia: Current status and information needs. RAP Publication No. 2002/11, 114 p.
FAO. 2003. Myanmar Aquaculture and Inland Fisheries. RAP Publication 2003/18Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries. 2009. Fisheries Statistics 2008-2009.
Lymer D, Funge-Smith S. and W. Miao. 2010. Status and potential of fisheries and aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific 2010. FAO RAP Publication .
SEAFDEC. 2008. Regional Framework for Fishery Statistics in SE Asia. Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre, Bangkok, Thailand 33p.
http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/asia/mm.htmIntroduction to Fishing Methods and Gear in Delta Region of Myanmar [online].
Agriculture Cluster - Myanmar. Technical Fact Sheet No. 16http://www.fao.org/fishery/countrysector/naso_myanmar/en .

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