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2.1 Experiments on seed production

With the development and extension of fish culture throughout the country, the scarcity of fish seed of cultivated species was greatly felt by the Government of Burma. The only source of fish seed being the rivers and adjoining areas, the Government had made extensive surveys in the river Irrawaddy and its tributaries and had established a few carp spawn, fry and fingerling collection centres. The quality of collected seed was not very satisfactory, however, and the quantity was also inadequate to meet the growing demand for stocking material. The preliminary experiments carried out by the FAO expert on induced fish breeding to develop an alternative source of seed, have been described in FAO/UNDP (1967) TA 2298. This work was continued and an account of the experiments and their results are given below.

2.11 Experiments during 1966–67

Hlawga Fish Culture Station was primarily selected for conducting induced fish breeding experiments. Although 300–400 specimens were kept for breeding purposes, very few fishes were observed to have attained full maturity during May 1967. Among the major carps, only a few rohu (Nga-myit-chin) had well-developed gonads. While stray specimens of catla (Ngathaing-gaung-bwa) showed signs of maturity, no mrigal (Nga-gyin) was observed to have developed gonads. Similar observations were also made at the Twante fish farms where only four or five year-old rohu were fully mature. Since pondwater in the Twante farm was slightly saline, an attempt was made initially to transfer a number of large (6–8 kg) fully mature rohu breeders for experimentation to the Hlawga fish farm. The breeding experiments however were delayed until the middle of July because of the scanty rainfall and prevailing high water temperature. The delayed monsoon had also affected the condition of breeders. With the start of the monsoon, seven sets (a set generally consisted of one female and two males) of rohu were injected, of which three sets successfully spawned. A total of 1.05 million eggs were laid, and 381 000 spawn (post-larvae, 5–7 mm long) were obtained for stocking into nursery ponds. The standard dose administered was 7–11 mg of pituitary gland per kg body weight of a female fish given in two portions at an interval of six hours and a single dose of 2–3 mg of the gland per kg body weight to the males. Spawning usually occurred within four to six hours after the injected fish were put together. Pituitary glands were procured from mature rohu obtained from the Twante fish farm. The water temperature varied from 27° to 30° during spawning.

One pair of Labeo nandina (Ohn-done) was also successfully bred by hypophyseal injections. The female laid only 20 000 eggs and the percentage of fertilized eggs was rather low. But the result was interesting since that was the first instance of breeding of the species. The life history of L. nandina was studied in detail and the characteristics of fry noted.

Fish breeding experiments were continued at the Twante fish farm where the pond water had slight salinity. Although only a few experiments could be conducted, three sets of rohu ovulated and 30 000 spawn were obtained for stocking. The percentage of fertilization was very low. But the result was highly significant since successful breeding could be obtained at this farm where the water was slightly saline.

Further experiments were carried out at the Twante fish farm with a slow growing major carp Labeo gonius, and five sets were successfully bred by hormone injections.

Three more experiments were conducted so as to study the effect of injections of chorionic gonadotrophin on inducing spawning. Three sets of L. gonius were injected with doses varying from 500–2 000 I.U. of C.G. per kg body weight administered in two successive injections at an interval of ten hours. None of the fish spawned although controls injected with fish pituitary hormone gave positive results.

2.12 Experiments during 1967–68

Special care was taken in raising breeders at the Hlawga fish farm for the 1967–68 fish breeding season. About 600 breeders were collected and stocked in a pond immediately after the 1966–67 breeding season. These were fed daily with rice bran and oilcake mixed with chopped aquatic vegetation. Slow replacement of pond water by fresh water was also performed regularly. The breeders were in good condition. The monsoon started by the end of May and the first breeding experiment was initiated during the second week of June 1968. Large-scale breeding was carried out at the Hlawga and Twante fish farms under the technical guidance of the expert. Twelve fishery officers and field staff received practical training in this work at the farms. U Hla Tin, the full-time counterpart assistant, conducted most of the experiments at Hlawga fish farm. At Twante, complete success was obtained with rohu and a total of 1.43 million spawn were produced. Further breeding was stopped since all the available ponds were fully stocked with spawn and no additional water area could be found for rearing. A few experiments conducted with catla, however, did not meet with success since the breeders were of a very large size (over 13 kg) and the breeding hapa were too small for breeding such large fish. At Hlawga fish farm, 1.9 million spawn of rohu were produced and the additional spawn were distributed to various fish farms all over Burma. A total of 3.33 million spawn was thus produced by induced breeding during 1967–68. Pituitary glands from both Cyprinus carpio and rohu were used for the purpose.

2.13 Experiments during 1968–69

During 1968–69 more elaborate arrangements were made at Hlawga fish farm for large-scale production of fish seed. Proper care was taken to rear a good stock of breeders. While a few catla breeders were available, mrigal did not show any sign of maturity. Induced fish breeding experiments were started at the Hlawga fish farm by the beginning of the second week of June. Very satisfactory results were obtained especially with rohu where almost 100 per cent success in spawning was obtained. Out of 24 injected, successful results were obtained in 23 sets. Since the males and females of catla did not reach prime condition simultaneously, some difficulty was experienced initially in breeding them successfully. This was overcome however by artificial fertilization which involved stripping, and sufficient catla spawn were obtained. Over seven million carp spawn were produced at Hlawga fish farm and distributed to other fish farms situated all over Burma (after meeting its own requirements of raising two crops of carp fry). The expert also conducted induced breeding experiments at the Twante fish farm where one officer from the Directorate of Fisheries and two officers from PPFB worked as counterpart assistants. A total of 3.25 million carp spawn were produced.

During 1968–69 induced breeding was performed also in a few other fish farms. Success was achieved in all the new centres and over 700 000 rohu spawn were produced in the fish farms at Mandalay, Pegu and Phalan. Thus a total of over 11 million carp spawn were obtained by induced breeding during 1968–69.

2.14 Experiments during 1969–70

During 1969–70 large-scale production of carp spawn was also concentrated at the Hlawga fish farm, besides limited operations in several other centres to meet local requirements. Successful spawning was also achieved this year in a new fish farm at Prome in addition to those of Mandalay, Pegu and Phalan. For the first time in three years, a few of the mrigal breeders at the Hlawga brood pond were observed to have developed gonads. A few males had reached a late stage of maturity but none of those oozed freely. In a few males, the ovaries were found to be maturing, but they could not be used in this particular year for breeding purposes. These fishes are at least four years old and probably regular supplemental feeding appears to have helped the maturation of gonads. The number of catla breeders available for experiments was also very limited. It is expected that the induced-bred progeny of catla produced during 1968–69 would provide a sufficient stock of breeders in coming years. In 1969–70 mainly three year-old induced-bred rohu were used as breeders. The total production of carp spawn in all the fish farms exceeded 9.3 million. The total production including that of PPFB farms would be about 12 million and this was adequate to meet the requirements of the country. In fact, during 1969–70 the Directorate of Fisheries had completely stopped collection of spawn, fry and fingerlings from the rivers.

2.2 Experiments on hybridization of carps

Demonstrations of the technique of fish hybridization were given during 1968–69 for training purposes. The following two hybrids were produced:

  1. catla male x rohu female - catla-rohu (hybrid)

  2. rohu male x catla female - rohu-catla (hybrid)

Detailed study of the hybrids showed that they are intermediate in character between the two parent species. In general, the hybrids had smaller heads similar to rohu and a wider body as in catla. A total of 110 000 spawn of catla-rohu hybrid were produced and stocked in two nursery ponds each having an area of 0.08 ha (0.2 acre). In another pond 42 000 rohu-catla spawn were introduced. The growth and survival of both the hybrids at the initial stage were very satisfactory as compared with the parent species. Comparative growth of both the hybrids however indicated that catla-rohu grow slightly faster than rohu-catla. The hybrids have been distributed to various fish farms and are being grown along with other carps.

2.3 Natural fish seed resources

2.31 Spawn collection from rivers

The Directorate of Fisheries has established a number of spawn collection centres after making a spawn-prospective survey in the main Irrawaddy river, its tributaries and in the Sittang river. The main centres established were Kyawkmyang, Sagaing, Mandalay, Shwedaung, Tharrawaw, Henzada and Pantanaw in the river Irrawaddy, Ava in Myintze river, Yandoon in Pan-Hlaing and Shewegin in Sittang river. The method of spawn collection followed in these rivers is about the same as practised in West Bengal and other parts of Eastern India. Funnel-shaped cotton nets or square-meshed nylon nets were fixed in shallower areas of the river on bamboo poles, facing the current and the spawn scooped out at intervals from the tail cloth. The spawn is usually despatched to Hlawga fish culture station, packed in oxygen filled plastic bags in tin containers and transported by train, steam and also by departmental vans. The quality of spawn collected was generally unsatisfactory. Several observations were made at the Hlawga fish farm and also once at the Mandalay fish farm when the fry grown from riverine spawn were identified and showed a very low percentage of major carps. These details described in the FAO/UNDP Report, (1967) TA 2298.

2.32 Collection of fry and fingerlings

The spawn collection centres, as mentioned above, were also used for fry and fingerling collections. Methods of collecting advanced fry and fingerlings vary from region to region. In upper Burma the collections are usually made by bamboo traps.

In lower Burma, in addition to the bamboo traps, there is a special device known as Saloo-netting. This is a scare-net or drive-in-net and is usually operated in shallow inundated areas adjacent to rivers. Palm leaves are tied at intervals to a coir rope which is dragged rapidly, driving the fishes toward a wide-mouthed scoop-net in which the fingerlings are collected. Fingerlings are also collected by Chinese dip-nets but these are usually operated in the river itself. The fry and fingerlings also are transported in oxygen-filled plastic bags in the same way as the spawn. The fingerlings are either sent direct to the fish farmers or transported to Hlawga or Mandalay fish farms for distribution to fish culturists.

A study of samples of fry and fingerlings collected from centres in upper and central Burma showed a very low percentage of major carp. In lower Burma too, especially in Shwedaung-Prome area, minor carp formed the bulk of the catch. But in Yandoon, about 350 km downstream, the percentage of major carp was much higher. Tharrawaw, another important fry collection centre in the river Irrawaddy and situated between Shwedaung and Yandoon had catches intermediate between the above two centres.

2.33 Identification of carp fry and fingerlings

Collection of carp fingerlings from rivers for culture is practised by many fish culturists living near riverine areas. Very few of them however are able to identify the economic species from the uneconomic ones. Even most of the fishery workers find it difficult to distinguish between the fry and fingerlings of major and minor carps. The expert trained the counterpart assistants in the correct identification of carp fry and fingerlings. The field identification characters of the fry and fingerlings of common major, mediumsized and minor carp species, is given in Appendix 1.

2.4 Nursery management

The nursery practices followed in Burma need further improvement for ensuring better growth and higher survival of fry. Lack of facilities, technical knowledge and trained personnel are mainly responsible for the poor results in many fish farms. The average survival of fry was hardly 10%. This could be increased to 30 – 40% by taking proper precautions at every stage of nursery management.

Nursery ponds in Burma are usually prepared by draining by gravitation or by pumping out and clearing the ponds of miscellaneous fishes, predators and aquatic weeds, if any. The pond bottom is generally dried. In practice however complete drying of pond bottom could not always be done due to various reasons. In such cases, some predatory fishes like Ophicephalus spp. are left over in the ponds. Generally the nursery ponds are surrounded by bamboo fencing about 40 cm high for preventing the entrance of air-breathing predators. In spite of such precautions some predators do get in through crabholes and breaches in the fence. Since no effective filters are provided in the inlets of nursery ponds, very often miscellaneous weed fish and their young get in although water is seived through the inlets. These defects in the preparation of nursery ponds are sometimes responsible for poorer results. Precautions were taken to eliminate these factors as far as practicable while preparing nursery ponds.

After liming the ponds, the manuring was generally done with cow-dung or poultry manure. N-P-K (18-18-18) was also previously used in a few fish farms, but this did not give satisfactory results.

Since pond soil in Hlawga farm is slightly acidic, the expert advised liming at the rate of 300 kg/ha with quicklime which was usually spread at the pond bottom about a week before manuring took place. Manuring with cow-dung (80% moisture) at the rate of 10 000 kg/ha was generally carried out and sometimes followed by another application of 5 000 kg/ha left in pond corners after the stocking of spawn. In addition, triple superphosphate at the rate of 100 kg/ha was applied a week before stocking and twice after an interval of one week. In a few fish farms, poultry manure at the rate of 2 500 – 5 000 kg/ha was introduced instead of cow-dung.

A rough assessment of plankton was usually made by filtering 45 1 of pond water through a plankton net, following fertilization of nursery ponds and immediately before stocking with spawn. Microscopical examination of the quality of plankton was also made. The stocking rate of spawn was determined by the volume of zoo-plankton present in the collection. A sediment of zoo-plankton over 0.5 – 1.0 cc was considered very satisfactory. The counter-part assistants were trained in the collection and assessment of plankton and also given thorough training in the identification of the common zoo- and phyto-plankton occurring in the nursery ponds.

Nursery ponds in Burma are very often densely populated with predatory aquatic insects. These are mainly responsible for large-scale destruction and low survival of fry. The backswimmers (Notonectids) are the most abundant. An emulsion prepared by mixing a vegetable oil (mustard, pea-nut etc.) at the rate of 50 – 60 kg/ha (surface area) with one third its weight (17 – 20 kg/ha) of cheap soap in solution, effectively kills these insects. Although application of the soap-oil emulsion was suggested for the eradication of backswimmers, this could not be done due to scarcity and the very high price of the edible peanut (groundnut) oil Repeated nettings with close-meshed nets were generally carried out for removing the insect population, but this was not really effective.

During 1969–70 the price of peanut oil had gone down and so the soap-oil emulsion was tried in one farm. The survival rate of fry was increased to about 45%. The result demonstrated that eradication of these insects would result in higher survival of fry, even though the cost may be a little higher.

Stocking and supplemental feeding of riverine spawn in nursery ponds in Burma was generally done rather arbitrarily. With the success in the production of induced-bred spawn, the following stocking rate was followed: one million spawn per hectare was the usual stocking rate in average ponds with a variation of 0.5 – 2 million/ha depending on the fertility of the nursery ponds. Most of the Hlawga fish farm ponds were stocked at the rate of one million/ha during 1968–69 and 1969–70 seasons. The rate of stocking, however, was lower when a second crop of fry was raised from the same pond. Supplementary feeding took place from the second day after stocking. Artificial food in the form of finely powdered peanut oil cake and rice bran in the ratio of 1:1 was fed daily by spreading the food on the water surface. The feed was given once in the morning or twice a day. The quantity of feed given per 100 000 spawn was as follows:

2ndto  6th day-at   500 g/day
7thto13th day-at   750 g/day
14thto20th day-at1 000 g/day

Zoo-plankton produced in ditches and brickponds, heavily manured with organic manures, were introduced into heavily stocked ponds and those deficient in zoo-plankton.

Harvesting was usually done when the fry were about 1½ – 2½ months old. Lower survival rates occurred when dense populations of fry were retained in ponds for a prolonged period. The fry were generally grown to fingerlings (75 – 80 mm) without thinning out of population. This practice was modified however, and thinning and harvesting was done in about three to four weeks, when the fry attained 25 – 35 mm in length. Thinning out of population after three weeks was all the more necessary since a single species of induced-bred carp spawn was stocked in nursery ponds. By harvesting in proper time, the survival rate could be considerably increased.

With the introduction of induced breeding it has been possible to raise more than one crop of fry from the same set of nurseries. Two crops of induced-bred carp fry were raised every season at Hlawga fish farm in 1968–69 and 1969–70. Since the nursery space is very limited in every farm, the production of fry could be increased at least by one and a half times by raising two crops.

2.5 Rearing and stocking ponds

In Burma separate rearing ponds are not generally used. In usual practice, carp spawn is reared in nursery ponds to 75 – 80 mm size and then transplanted directly to the large stocking ponds for culture. This results in poor growth and low survival owing to high population density. The expert stressed the necessity of rearing ponds and advised their construction. Rearing ponds and also nursery-cum-rearing ponds have recently been conducted in several fish farms. The fry (25 – 30 mm) are grown to fingerlings (125 – 140 mm) in these ponds.

Stocking ponds in Burma are generally stocked with 75 – 80 mm size carp fingerlings at the rate of 5 000/ha. Manuring is done either with cow-dung or with poultry manure. Poultry manure is applied at the rate of 500 – 1 000 kg/ha. Fishes are artificially fed mainly with rice bran and rarely with oil cakes. Harvesting is usually done once in two years. The expert advised the planting of at least 125 – 140 mm size fingerlings in large stocking ponds. The fertilization schedule was prepared after studying the quality of pond soil in various fish farms. It is observed that the majority of the lower Burma fish farms has slightly acidic soil, while soil in the majority of the upper Burma fish farms is slightly alkaline (see Appendix 2). In stocking ponds with acidic soil, pre-treatment with quicklime at 250 – 600 kg/ha was recommended. Since organic content was low in most of the fish farms, a combination of organic and inorganic fertilizers was given to stocking ponds. Usually manuring with cow-dung at 5 000 kg/ha or poultry manure at 2 500 kg/ha was carried out. In addition, superphosphate (triple) at 100 kg/ha was applied in some ponds and five or six doses were given in alternate months. Supplemental feeding with a mixture of rice bran and oil cake ( 1 – 5% body weight) in the ratio 1:1, mixed with some green vegetation was also performed in stocking ponds. The usual rate of stocking was 5 000 – 10 000 fingerlings per hectare of three to five compatible species of fishes.

2.6 Demonstration of intensive fish culture

Due to lack of adequate essential facilities, demonstration of intensive fish culture could be undertaken only in one pond at the Hlawga fish farm and in a private pond.

2.61 Hlawga fish farm pond

The pond used for demonstrations at the Hlawga Fish Culture Station was about 0.12 ha in area and ordinarily used as a nursery-cum-rearing pond.

It was completely drained on 14 March 1969 and refilled after liming. Fertilization with organic as well as inorganic fertilizers was carried out. The pond was stocked on 12 April 1969 with yearlings of major carp. Because of the non-availability of sufficient stocking material in the month of April, the originally planned stocking rate of 7 500/ha could not be followed; instead 5 417 yearlings/ha were introduced. The proportion and the number of different species included in the mixed farming were as follows:

  No. stockedProportion
Catla catla-1001
Labeo rohita-3003
Cirrhina mrigala-120   1.2
Cyprinus carpio-1001
Miscellaneous species-  30   0.3

Miscellaneous species included medium sized carp and minor carp, such as Labeo nandina, L. calbasu (major carp), L. stoliczkae, L. pangusia, L. boga, Osteobrama belangeri and also the giant gourami Osphronemus goramy.

Daily feeding with a mixture of rice bran and peanut oil cake and chopped pieces of aquatic and semi-aquatic vegetation was carried out regularly. The details of feeding schedules and the subsequent manuring, etc. are given in Appendix 4 (a). The water level was maintained by filling in fresh water to make up for the loss due to evaporation. Since the pond water developed a thick bloom, about 45 cm of pond water was pumped out in September and refilled with lake water. The growth of fish was checked once in two months. After nine months all the fishes were harvested by draining the pond. Survival was almost 100%. Only three fishes (one each of catla, L. pangusia and L. boga) were missing. In addition, 201 juveniles of C. carpio and 261 table-size Tilapia (which accidentally entered the pond) were obtained. Stray breeding of C. carpio occurred and the progeny attained an average weight of 113.9 g. The total production in the nine months' rearing period was 711.1 kg. The initial weight of the fishes at the time of stocking was 186.4 kg. Actual increase in weight was calculated to be 524.7 kg. This gave a production of 4 372.5 kg/ha in nine months. The cost of production has been worked out and shows a net profit of K 5 830 1 ($1 225.00 approximately) per hectare of stocking pond. The details of production figures and cost of production, etc. are provided in Appendix 4 (a).

1 K = Kyat $1 = K 4.762 K 1 = US c21

2.62 Private fish pond

The demonstration pond selected belongs to a private farmer and is situated at Sawbwagyigon (near Mingaladon Airport) about 19 km away from Rangoon on the Rangoon Prome Road. It is 0.2 ha (0.5 acre) in area and has a maximum depth of two to three metres.

Pond soil was analysed and on the basis of the quality of the soil, fertilization and stocking programmes were determined. The pond had been limed and fertilized two months before the expert inspected it on 11 May 1969. The demonstration was started on 1 September 1969, when the pond was stocked with early fingerlings of carps 50 – 68 mm in length. Since the pond was free from any predators small fingerlings could be stocked. The stocking rate was 10 570/ha. The species stocked were as follows:

Catla-370      (induced-bred)
Rohu-1 150      (induced-bred)
Mrigal-525      (grown from riverine spawn)
Catla-rohu-30      (hybrid - artificially produced)
Rohu-catla-30      (hybrid - artificially produced)
Gourami-9      (bred in the farm)
Total 2 114       

Supplementary feeding with a mixture of rice bran and peanut oil cake was given daily besides green leaves and other wastes from the adjoining vegetable garden. A schedule for daily feeding and pond fertilization was prepared for the owner. Monthly studies on the pH of water, plankton content and growth rate of fish were made. The pond when first stocked did not have any minnows or any predators. In November 1969, however, when the water level went down a little, some water was pumped in from the nearby inundated low-lying areas by the owner. Although precautions were taken to prevent entry of any weedfishes, a few managed to get in. After about two months, small prawns and Ambassis nama were observed in the pond.

The growth of fish in the pond was very satisfactory and within one year the majority of the carps attained an average weight of about one kg. The demonstration of intensive culture in the pond was planned for two years. However, to get an idea of the production before the end of the project, test fishing with drag nets took place on 10 October 1970. The numbers of fishes captured in three hauls are given below:

  No. stockedNo. capturedPercentage capturedRemarks
Catla-370   36598.6Fishes died during monthly growth study
Rohu-1 150    78168.916 died in March, April and August 1970
Mrigal-525      163.074 died in April 1970
Hybrids-60      5591.71 died in August 1970
Gourami-9       675.01 died in March 1970

From the percentage of catla captured, it appears that the survival rate is high. Fishing by drag netting even in shallow ponds usually gives a catch of 95 – 100% of catla, 70 – 85% of rohu and only 5 – 25% of mrigal. From the above figures of fish catch and since no mortality was observed and no predators present, the overall mortality of fish may probably be only 5 – 10% at the worst.

The total production of fish in 13 months assuming the maximum overall mortality of 10% was estimated as 2 271.7 kg or 11 358.5 kg/ha in 13 months. Fish production in one year was 10 390.0 kg/ha. In addition, 320 kg/ha of small prawns were harvested from the pond during the period. Even the quantity of fish that was recovered in three hauls gave a production of 8 110 kg/ha in 13 months which is a very high figure of fish production.

Observation in the pond will be continued for one more year by the counterpart assistants. Since most of the fish had attained marketable size, the owner was advised to thin out the stock by removing some bigger examples. 226 rohu (average size 1.4 kg) and 69 catla (average size 1.2 kg) were harvested and removed. In addition, 11 rohu, 11 mrigal and 1 catla died during the whole operation of estimation of population. Thus a total of 424 kg or 265 viss 1 were removed which would fetch k 1 590 if sold at the wholesale rate of k 6/viss (77 c/kg)

To replace the stock of rohu harvested, 500 more fingerlings of rohu were stocked on 7 November 1970. Catla was not replenished because the growth rate of catla was not very satisfactory, although stocked at a much lower rate.

Physico-chemical nature of pond soil, production of fish and also the economic data on the expenditure involved have been provided in Appendix 4 (b). The cost of production per kilogramme of fish has been worked out as 0.88 pyas (K 1.49/viss or 18 c/kg) and a net profit of K 5 850 ($ 1 228.50) is expected from the 0.2 ha pond in 13 months.

1 Viss - unit of weight in Burma. 100 tikels = 1 viss

2.7 Observation on exotic fishes

2.71 Chinese carp

The introduction of the phytophagous Chinese grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idella for the biological control of aquatic weeds in Inle Lake was recommended in FAO/UN (1957) 776 and also in FAO/UN (1967) 2298.

Two attempts were made during the late fifties to introduce grass carp. In 1957 a consignment of 30 000 fingerlings, mainly consisting of Chinese grass carp and the bighead (Aristichthys nobilis) was imported. Heavy mortality occurred after their release into the ponds, and thereafter during transport to Inle Lake in Shan State. Although a few were reported to have been released into the lake, these have not established themselves there. In 1959 another consignment of about 100 000 fingerlings of Chinese carp was imported but they all perished shortly after introduction into the ponds.

In 1969 arrangements were made to import a small gift consignment of grass carp and silver carp from India. On 7 October 1969 about 1 000 grass carp and 1 000 silver carp fingerlings arrived at Rangoon from the Central Inland Fisheries Research Sub-station, Cuttack, India. The fingerlings were released in two 0.08 ha nursery ponds at the Hlawga fish farm specially prepared for the purpose.

A total of 1 030 grass carp and 980 silver carp fingerlings were received on 7 October 1969 and introduced into separate ponds after acclimatizing them before the release. No mortality was observed in the pond immediately after stocking. After ten days 400 grass carp and 100 silver carp were transferred to Nyaungshwe fish farm near Inle Lake in Shan State, at an elevation of 915 m. During transport, only four grass carp died. After a month the rest of the surviving fingerlings were netted out and restocked in three nursery ponds at different stocking rates and different combinations of the two species. A few fingerlings of each species were also distributed to various other ponds. Survival rate at the initial stocking was 80.6% and 75.0% in grass carp and silver carp fingerlings respectively. Survival may have been still higher but for the accidental entrance of a number of yearlings of the predatory murrel, Ophicephalus striatus (see Appendix 5, Table 1).

The grass carp fingerlings feed efficiently on floating aquatic weeds like Lemna, Wolffia, Spirodela, Azolla and also on the soft-leaved submerged aquatic vegetation such as Hydrilla, Naias, Ceratophyllum, Potamogeton, etc. In the three stocked ponds, the growth of grass carp was slower at first since sufficient suitable aquatic weeds were not available for feeding. Artificial feeding with rice bran and oil cakes was carried out regularly. The experiment continued for six months when the ponds had to be drained for fry rearing purposes.

The survival of fingerlings in the three ponds varied from 96% – 98% for grass carp and 78% – 99.3% in silver carp. The details of stocking, size, growth, survival and production are given in Tables 2 – 4 in Appendix 5.

The majority of the Chinese carp harvested from the three ponds were transferred to a 0.8 ha pond where a fresh experiment on mixed farming was planned. A few large specimens (60 of each species) of the Chinese carp however, were restocked in two ponds and observations on their growth and maturity continued. The stocking rate was low to obtain faster growth and earlier maturation. The maximum size attained by grass carp by the end of August was 3.25 kg and the corresponding figure for silver carp was 2.0 kg. This size was reached within a little over ten months at an age of one year. The details of the experiment are also provided in Tables 5 and 6 of Appendix 5.

The maturity condition in Chinese carp was examined regularly from the month of May 1970. Although the majority of the Chinese carp had attained adult size, with the exception of a few silver carp males, which developed roughness on the pectoral fins, no others showed any sign of maturity. Since these Chinese carp did not attain maturity, no induced breeding experiments could be carried out during the 1969–70 season. It is expected that by the next season, the majority would become fully mature. Detailed instructions for proper rearing of breeders and the technique of breeding Chinese carp by hormone injections have been communicated to the counterpart assistants.

Chinese grass carp and silver carp are quite compatible with the indigenous carps of Burma. The expert has initiated a programme of mixed farming in a 0.8 ha pond at the Hlawga fish farm with the following species:

Catla catla, Labeo rohita, Cirrhina mrigala, Ctenopharyngodon idella, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, Labeo stoliezkae, Labeo nandina, Cyprinus carpio, Notopterus notopterus, Osphronemus goramy, a predatory species Pseudentropius taakree and hybrids (reciprocal) of catla and rohu.

The work is in progress and it is expected that the overall production of fish will be increased by this method.

2.72 Common carp

Burma has three different strains of common carp, Cyprinus carpio. Two of the strains are exotic, while the third (var:intha) is an indigenous strain which is very slow growing and hardly attains more than 30 cm in length. Out of the other two, one is the Israeli strain and the other was imported from Indonesia. These, however, have not yet been established in the open waters and are only cultured in Government fish farms and by private fish culturists. The Israeli strain (line carp), although not very popular because of its appearance, seems to be better suited for culture in cold waters at the higher altitudes. The Government has decided to promote cultivation of common carp at higher altitudes and has established a fish farm at Nyaungshwe near Inle Lake for its propagation. Although very susceptible to predation in open waters, the Indonesian strain of common carp grows quite well in ponds in Burma and utilizes artificial food efficiently. Breeding of common carp is regularly carried out at the Phalan and Mandalay fish farms for distribution of fry to the public. Limited work was also taken up at the Hlawga fish farm during 1966–69 to meet the local demands.

Common carp in Burma is being used as the main donor fish for the collection of pituitary glands in induced breeding work. A programme for producing several thousands of common carp breeders every year to meet the requirements for pituitary glands has been initiated at the Phalan Fish Culture Station.

2.73 Other exotic fishes

Tilapia mossambica, although introduced into Burma as early as in 1952, has not yet established itself. The species is more popular in the dry zone area of upper and central Burma. Tilapia fry are distributed to the public for culture from the fish farms at Mandalay, Hlawga and Phalan. No special breeding of tilapia is practised.

Osphronemus goramy was imported from Ceylon to Burma in the early sixties. The species is cultured at the Hlawga and Mandalay fish farms. Small-scale breeding is performed every year at both these farms but no extensive culture was taken up due to dearth of ponds.

Trichogaster pectoralis or ‘Sepat Siam’ was first introduced into Burma from Thailand in 1963. Distribution to fish farmers was started in 1964. The fish was also released in open waters. By 1968–69 the fish seemed to have established itself since large quantities are being marketed daily to Rangoon and other markets.

2.8 Observations on fish farms and other cultivable waters

2.81 Government fish farms

Although fish culture in Burma is a recent enterprise, it has been receiving due attention from the Government of the Union of Burma. The Government has established a number of fish farms all over Burma with a view to popularizing fish culture and promoting its development throughout the country. The expansion had been very rapid during the last few years, especially after the initiation of the fish culture project. Until 1965–66 the Directorate of Fisheries had only three fresh water fish culture stations. Within the last four years, however, new fish farms have been established at Shwebo, Nyaungshwe, Pyinmana, Prome, Yandoon and Pegu. The existing ones have also been enlarged during this period. Further expansion was planned for the next four years and new fish farms were to follow in Henzada, Lepadan, Tharrawaddy, Pa-an, Myitkyina, Loikaw and Sandaway (brackish water). In addition, the existing pond area in Mandalay, Shwebo, Nyaungshwe, Hlawga, Prome, Yandoon and Phalan fish farms would be further extended.

The People's Pearl and Fishery Board (PPFB) has three fish farms under its control. All the three farms are situated in lower Burma and have a total pond area of 461 acres. PPFB has an expansion programme of bringing under cultivation another 80 acres in lower Burma and 200 acres in upper Burma by 1971–72.

(a) Fish farms under the Directorate of Fisheries

Hlawga Fish Culture Station, established in 1952, is the oldest Government fish farm, and is the most important centre where major fish cultural activities of the Directorate, including experimentations, demonstrations and training are conducted. The farm receives a supply of water from the Hlawga Lake on a rental basis and it is fed to ponds provided with individual inlets. Soil texture is silty clay and the pH (soil) is moderately acid. Soil is low in available phosphorus, medium in total nitrogen and low in available nitrogen and organic carbon. The expert's activities were concentrated mainly in this farm, which was the primary centre where carp spawn collected from rivers were raised and fingerlings distributed to public and various other agencies. In addition to major carp, the exotic fishes such as common carp, tilapia, sepat siam and gourami, were also bred in this farm. More recently the Hlawga Fish Culture Station is being used as the primary fish seed production centre, capable of producing millions of carp spawn by induced breeding. The bulk of the fish seed requirement of the country is being produced from this centre, although limited breeding is carried out in other farms also.

Chinese carp recently brought into Burma are being reared in the farm and their breeding would be taken up as and when the fishes attain full maturity. The farm would mainly concentrate on large-scale production of Indian and Chinese major carp fish seed and raise fingerlings for distribution. However, the number of nursery and rearing ponds at present available in the farm is quite inadequate. In order to convert it to a fully-fledged fish seed farm, the number of nurseries and rearing ponds should at least be doubled. The farm also badly needs a few more stocking ponds for rearing and maintenance of a good stock of breeders. The Station also has a fish culture training centre intended for giving a six weeks' training course to fishery workers. A research laboratory is presently under construction at the Hlawga Station where research pertaining to various aspects of fish cultural problems will be carried out.

Pegu fish farm was constructed in the year 1966 and further extension made during 1968–69. The soil texture is clay-loam, pH slightly acid and poor in all nutrients. This farm is mainly used for raising major carp fingerlings, although a small supply of tilapia fry is also made occasionally. Experimental breeding of major carp rohu has been successfully carried out during 1968–69 and 1969–70 seasons.

The Prome fish farm at Thayaykhitthaya was started in 1967. By 1969–70 four nursery ponds and two stocking ponds having a total area of three acres were completed. This farm too is primarily intended for rearing induced-bred spawn of major carps and growing those to fingerling size for distribution. Some success has been achieved in breeding major carps during 1969–70.

The pond soil is clay in texture, pH being slightly acid. The soil is low in organic carbon, available nitrogen and phosphorus but has medium concentration of total nitrogen.

The Yandoon fish farm is located at the outskirt of Yandoon township in lower Burma. About 20 acres of land has been acquired for the farm during 1969–70 and construction of a one-acre pond has been completed. Further extension of fish ponds in the farm is contemplated.

Kyauktan Phalan station, established in 1955, is engaged mainly in the production of common carp seed and also in conducting limited breeding of major carps by hormone injections. In future the entire programme of breeding and culture of gourami and tilapia will be taken up at Phalan. Phalan farm soil has moderately acidic pH and soil texture is silty clay-loam. All the nutrients are low except for total nitrogen which has a medium concentration. It has a small laboratory building and also a few ponds for brackish water fish culture.

Thayetkon Fish Culture Station situated near the Mandalay town in upper Burma was established in 1957. Unlike the soil in lower Burma fish farms, this station has slightly alkaline to moderately alkaline soil pH. The texture of the soil is clay. The soil is low in organic carbon, low in both total and available nitrogen, but medium in available phosphorus.

Thayetkon fish farm in Mandalay is the main centre in upper Burma where carp fingerlings are raised for distribution to the fish culturists of central and upper Burma. The induced breeding programme met with success in 1968–69 and was repeated in the following year. Large-scale breeding of common carp and tilapia are taken up every year in this farm for supplying fingerlings to the fish culturists from upper and central Burma. A fish culture training centre similar to that of the Hlawga Station is also located at Thayetkon Fish Culture Station.

Shwebo fish farm was established in 1967–68. The texture of the pond soil is sandy clay-loam. Soil pH is very slightly alkaline. All the nutrients are low in concentration. The farm is mainly utilized for raising fry and fingerlings of carps for distribution.

Nyaungshwe fish farm is located at an elevation of 3 000 ft (915 m), and is three miles from Nyaungshwe town near Inle Lake.

This fish farm is very important since it is a nucleus from which common carp fish seed may be distributed to hill areas for culture and propagation. The farm would also be used for raising sufficient quantity of grass carp yearlings for systematic introduction into the Inle Lake. A consignment of 400 grass carp and 100 silver carp fingerlings was transferred to Nyaungshwe in the third week of October 1970 from Hlawga and the fingerlings are being reared in the farm.

The farm soil has silty clay texture and is moderately alkaline. Organic carbon and available nitrogen in the soil are low, total nitrogen is medium but available phosphorus was observed to be high.

The Pyinmana fish farm was established in 1967–68 at Pyinmana in central Burma. The soil texture is loam and pH slightly alkaline. While available phosphorus is high, other nutrients are rather low. Pyinmana fish farm is solely used for raising carp spawn to fry and fingerlings for sale to fish farmers.

(b) Farms under the People's Pearl and Fishery Board

Twante fish farm is the largest of the production fish farms. It is situated near the Twante township, about 18 miles distance from Rangoon and was established in 1961. The total area under cultivation is about 373 acres. The ponds are provided with inlets and outlets and the water supply is from a small stream connected to the Twante canal. Since there is tidal effect in Twante canal the water is slightly saline. Major and common carp (both Israeli and Indonesian strains) are cultured in these ponds.

Twante farm soil is silty clay in texture. Soil pH is near neutral. Total nitrogen is high but available nitrogen is low. While the stocking pond (nine years old and fertilized every year with poultry manure) showed a very high concentration of available phosphorus, a newly dug pond gave a very low figure. This station is a production farm.

Tartapaw fish farm was established in 1958, and is located 15 miles away from the Twante fish farm in lower Burma. This is also a production farm. Major carp fingerlings procured from the Directorate of Fisheries are reared in ponds and harvested for marketing every two years. The management of this farm is similar to other PPFB farms. The expert could not visit this station because of security reasons.

As mentioned earlier, the major portion of the Hlawga Fish Culture Station consisting of large-size stocking ponds is under the management of PPFB. This farm consists of seven ponds with a total pond area of 36 acres, and is also a production farm being operated more or less in the same manner as the Twante fish farm of PPFB.

In the foregoing, an account has been given of the existing fish farms established by the two governmental agencies and their operational activities. The details of the number and size of ponds and the total area of each farm and also the data on the analysis of pond soil of various fish farms have been provided in Appendix 2 and 3 respectively.

From the study of the fish farms, it has been observed that the Directorate of Fisheries has made good progress toward expansion and extension of fish farms all over Burma during the last four years. During 1966–67 an extensive survey was made by the department and sites for fish farms in Pegu, Pyinmana, Shwebo, Nyaungshwe and Prome were selected. In the majority of these farms, land was immediately acquired and a few ponds were excavated. The expert observed, however, that while selecting sites for farms some essential study could not be made probably because of lack of facilities and lack of trained personnel. The expert therefore suggests that the following points may be given due consideration while selecting sites for fish farms in future and before starting any excavation of ponds:

  1. Testing of physical and chemical qualities of the soil especially the texture of soil, its retentivity, the soil pH and the nutrient contents, such as, total and available nitrogen, available phosphorus, organic carbon, etc.

  2. Water table and source of water are very important criteria for a suitable site.

  3. A topographical or contour survey is essential before undertaking any excavation for pond construction.

  4. After studying the contour and proper planning, a blue print of the new fish farm should be prepared. The construction work could be started according to the plan.

  5. Services of a civil engineer (overseer) and a soil chemist are essential for selection of suitable land for a fish farm, construction of ponds (overseer) and also for routing analyses of various pond soil and formulation of a pond fertilization programme in a farm (soil chemist).

2.82 Establishment of a composite fish farm

Under the conditions existing in Burma, it was considered very advantageous to have composite self-sufficient fish farms where the necessary stocking material could be raised.

Twante fish farm, under the management of PPFB, is a production farm which could be converted into a composite fish farm. In 1966 it had about 41.6 ha (104 acres) under cultivation and consisted mainly of large stocking ponds. There was a proposal to construct more largesize (about 8 ha each) stocking ponds and extend the farm to 400 ha (1 000 acres) by 1970. There was no provision in the proposal for construction of nursery and rearing ponds since the Board was depending on the Directorate of Fisheries for the supply of carp fingerlings for stocking the farm. The requirement for the stocking materials will be very much higher when the farm is extended to 400 ha. It was even difficult to procure sufficient carp fingerlings for stocking the 41.6 ha farm in 1966. In any case the Directorate of Fisheries was also not in a position to meet the additional requirement of the expanded farm since it did not possess sufficient nursery and rearing space in its farms for raising the required number of carp fingerlings.

The expert during his earlier assignement advised (FAO/UN (1967) 2298) the management to convert Twante fish farm into a composite fish farm by constructing an adequate number of nurseries and rearing ponds and providing facilities for induced fish breeding work so that the farm would become self-sufficient in its requirements for stocking materials. The composite fish farm could also be used for demonstration purposes and for the training of the fishery staff, extension workers and fish farmers. The management was also advised to construct initially a set of nurseries and rearing ponds for raising a sufficient number of fingerlings for 20 ha (50 acres) of stocking ponds. Further extension of nursery areas could be taken up only after studying the results at various operational stages.

The management decided to postpone further expansion of stocking ponds with the exception of completing the ponds which were already under construction during 1966–67 and started the construction of nurseries and rearing ponds. One stocking pond was converted to three rearing ponds by setting up partitions. During 1967–68 the first set of nursery ponds was constructed with eight ponds each having an area of 0.02 ha (0.05 acres). In 1968–69 eight more nursery–cum-rearing ponds (0.08 ha each) were added and during 1969–70, 32 nursery-cum-rearing ponds of the same area were constructed as advised by the expert. In addition, a few brick ponds are available in the farm which can be used for rearing of carp spawn. The management also initiated the programme on commercial production of fish seed by neuro-hormonal techniques and two officers were designated for training, under the expert's supervision.

At present the total area under proper cultivation in Twante farm is about 149.2 ha (373 acres), which comprises 48 nursery ponds (total area 3.36 ha out of which 3.2 ha can also be used as rearing pond), six rearing ponds (total area 3.12 ha), 25 stocking ponds (total area 141.4 ha), one marketing pond (0.56 ha) and one brood fish pond (0.72 ha). One of the large-size rearing ponds (0.88 ha) is also used as a breeding pond. Twante fish farm now possesses sufficient nursery and rearing space for meeting present requirements of advanced fry and fingerlings. With the present area of 141.4 ha (353.5 acres) of stocking ponds in Twante fish farm, 1.06 million carp fingerlings (125–140 mm) are required, calculated at a stocking rate of 7 500/ha (3 000 per acre). Since the ponds are harvested once in every two years, the annual requirement would be 0.53 million only. To raise this quantity of fingerlings and assuming a survival rate of 80% in the rearing ponds, at least 0.66 million advanced fry (25–35 mm) would be required. Stocking at the rate of 105 000 fry/ha (42 000 fry/acre), the total area of rearing space needed would be 6.28 ha (15.7 acres). At present the rearing space available is 6.32 ha (15.8 acres). To obtain 0.66 million of advanced fry and assuming only 20% survival in nurseries, the total requirement for carp spawn is estimated as 3.3 million. For rearing 3.3 million of carp spawn at a stocking rate of 1 million/ha (0.4 m/acre), the minimum nursery area required would be 3.3 ha (8.25 acres). The existing area of nursery space is 3.36 ha (8.4 acres).

The present demand of 3.3 million or approximately 4.0 million of carp spawn has to be met by induced breeding. This could be achieved by successfully breeding 20 major carps, calculated at a low production rate of 0.2 million spawn per fish. While engaged in commercial production of carp spawn at Twante farm during 1968–69, the expert, with the assistance of the counterpart assistants, injected 15 sets of rohu (6.8 – 11.2 kg) with pituitary hormones and obtained 3.28 million spawn for stocking. The production would have been much higher but for the salinity in water which probably was responsible for a lower rate of fertilization of eggs and poorer survival of hatchlings. Also in a few cases heavy mortality of hatchlings occurred due to unfavourable physico-chemical conditions in the pond where hatching hapa were fixed. However, even if the success in breeding is only 50% the total number of fish to be injected, to obtain 4 million of spawn, would not exceed 40 – 50 sets. As one set includes 2 males and one female, 120 – 150 good breeders would be required. Taking only 25% breeders as suitable spawners, the maximum number of breeders to be raised would be limited to 500 – 600 only. The brood pond (pond 5) in Twante is big enough to hold this number of breeders.

Twante farm however, has one great disadvantage. A sufficient quantity of rain water or fresh water is not available in the farm. Difficulties might arise in successful induced breeding work if the rain fall is very scanty or the monsoon is delayed considerably. It is therefore felt that the induced breeding programme should be shifted to Hlawga farm of PPFB where there are better facilities for breeding. The ponds receive sufficient rain water from the catchment area and it is expected that much higher fertilization of eggs and higher survival of hatchling, would be obtained from this farm. The spawn thus produced could be transported to Twante farm for stocking in nursery ponds. A few breeding experiments have already been carried out by the trained PPFB staff in Hlawga fish farm during 1969–70 at the suggestion of the expert.

The cost of production of spawn should not exceed more than K 250 per million. The total cost for raising 100 000 fingerlings would be far less than the present cost of K 20 per 100 fingerlings. With further improvement in the management of nursery and rearing ponds, a higher rate of survival and quicker growth of fry would be effected and the cost of production could be cut short considerably. Further, the cost of manuring the ponds in the farm is very little since extensive poultry farming is done in the fish farm. Poultry manure is largely used in fertilizing the ponds at Twante fish farm.

An induced fish breeding programme was carried out by the expert at the Twante fish farm during the years 1966–69. In the first year some preliminary experiments were made and 30 000 rohu spawn were obtained. During 1967–68 and 1968–69 1.28 and 3.28 million spawn were produced by induced breeding respectively. The expert also supervised management of nursery and rearing ponds during those years, and 0.1 million fingerlings were raised during 1967–68. Since only 0.16 ha (0.4 acre) nursery space was available for stocking, the excess of spawn was released in unprepared large rearing ponds. This gave a very low survival of fry. In 1968–69, however, the survival of spawn to fingerlings was very satisfactory. A total of 0.4 million fingerlings was obtained from the induced-bred carp spawn. During 1969–70, the trained staff of PPFB carried out the entire management by themselves, and 0.25 million fingerlings were reported to have been raised from 2.3 million carp spawn produced by induced breeding.

Twante fish farm now possesses all the requisites of a composite fish farm. The present area of nursery and rearing ponds are adequate for raising sufficient advanced fry and fingerlings to meet the requirements of the existing area of stocking ponds.

2.83 Private fish farms

The expert visited a number of private fish ponds in Burma. The visits were made primarily to acquaint himself with the way fish culture is practised by the private fish culturists in Burma. Relevant information on the main species of fish cultured, area under cultivation, source of water, details of management, total annual production of fish and other related matters were gathered as far as practicable. Collection of data on the economy of fish culture operations was obtained from several farms. Visits were also made on many occasions at the request of the fish farmers when they needed advice for improving and increasing the production of fish and also in other matters connected with pond fish culture. In general, emphasis was given to the utility of mixed farming with compatible species, optimum stocking rates, artificial feeding and pond fertilization, and the necessity for thinning out and harvesting of marketable fishes.

Fish farmers in lower Burma mainly culture major carp, very often in combination with the common carp. In central and upper Burma, especially in the dry zone area, however, tilapia is very popular although major and common carp are also cultivated. Artificial feeding with rice bran and on rare occasions with oil cake, is practised. The majority of the fish farmers depend on the Directorate of Fisheries for the supply of fish seed. In the absence of reliable data on actual fish production, no correct estimation of annual production of fish per unit area could be made. It is reported that with artificial feeding and pond fertilization the production is approximately 1 600 kg/ha/annum in Burma.

2.84 Potential cultivable waters

Burma is extremely rich in her inland fishery resources. There are innumerable bodies of water in the form of small lakes, large and small reservoirs, natural fisheries, inundated perennial and seasonal bodies of water. In addition, there are irrigation, power and multipurpose reservoirs, some of which have either been completed or are still under construction. At present three big river valley projects are under operation in Burma. The Mu river irrigation survey project had been entrusted to make a comprehensive study of the land and water resources of the Mu river basin. At the request of the Project Manager, and in consultation with the Director of Fisheries, the expert had made an appraisal of the fishery potential of the Mu river project. Mu river is a 560 km (350 mi) long tributary of the Irrawaddy river in upper Burma. Although the project is a multipurpose one, fishery was not originally included as one of the project's aims. The present fishery in the Mu river is not very rich. 40 species of fishes have been identified by the expert from Mu river. These include a few commercial species, such as, Cirrhina mrigala, Labeo nandina, Labeo stoliczkae, Mystus aor and M. seenghela. A few more important commercial species may have to be introduced after the impoundment.

Mobye dam on the stream Baluchaung in Kayah State is nearing completion. Since the stream harbours very few economic species, it may be necessary to stock some commercial species when the reservoir is completed.

The Sittang valley project has a programme of constructing a number of dams on the tributaries of Sittang river. The reservoirs, after impoundments, would provide additional areas with a great potential for the development of fisheries.

There is also a large number of small reservoirs scattered all over the country which are either left in a virgin state (a good number observed in Kayah State) or do not have a good stock of commercial species of fishes. These bodies of water provide large potential areas for fish production if stocked with suitable economic species of fish and properly managed.

2.85 Reclamation of swamps

During his visits to upper and central Burma the expert noted many water bodies which have turned to swamps and become unsuitable for fish culture. Reclamation of such potential cultivable waters would provide additional areas where profitable fish culture could be undertaken. Some of these swampy waters are situated right in the heart of cities and towns and are the breeding places of mosquitoes. The moats in the towns of Toungoo and Mandalay are choked with noxious weeds. There is also a swamp at the centre of the Pegu town. These swampy areas could be cleared and stocked with fish. Introduction of grass carp would also help in keeping the growth of aquatic vegetation under check. In addition to the production of fish, the reclaimed moate and swamps would also add to the beauty of the towns. The city of Rangoon has two beautiful lakes, the Inya and Royal Lakes, which are not used for fish culture. Big patches of submerged vegetation appear in many parts and these lakes should be systematically stocked with major carp and also with Chinese grass carp. The latter species would clear the submerged vegetation and keep the lakes clear of weeds. It is expected that the lakes, after proper stocking and if kept open to the anglers, would provide good public sport facilities, and would also be a good source of income to the Rangoon City Corporation.

2.9 Present status of fish culture in Burma

Fish culture in Burma, although a recent enterprise, is becoming very popular and interest in fish farming is widespread all over the country. The Government of Burma has expanded its programme for the development of fish culture to a great extent in recent years. Many private persons have taken up fish farming for domestic consumption, while many others have taken up fish culture as an industry, mainly because of the prevalent high price of fish and the substantial profit that can be made. In the initial stages, however, the industry suffered due to lack of technical knowledge of fish farming by the public and later on due to shortage of quality fish seed for stocking ponds. With the establishment of the Government fish farms, the interested fish culturist could get technical information from fishery staff, but that would not be adequate because of the shortage of trained technical staff in the farm. The majority of the fish farmers however could purchase carp seed from the Government farms for stocking their ponds. With the further expansion of fish culture in the country, the demand for fish seed increased considerably, and the Government could not cope with the rising demand. At the same time, large-scale construction of new ponds could not be taken up by the interested public because of the prevailing law in the country which forbids construction of fish ponds in paddy fields and also in land suitable for paddy culture. The first obstacle in the expansion of fish culture in Burma, namely the paucity of quality fish seed, to a certain extent, has been solved by the successful breeding of economic food fishes by hormone treatment and subsequent large-scale production of fish seed. It is expected that in future the production of fish seed would be raised considerably and the price of fingerlings would also be reduced as the cost of production is minimized. At present the price of carp fingerlings is rather high. A fish farmer has to pay K 10 for 100 fingerlings (75 – 80 mm size). In addition, the cost of plastic bags, tin carriers, expenditure on transport and loss of fingerlings due to mortality during transport would add a good amount over the cost paid for the purchase of fish seed. Even though the price of fingerlings is very high, the fish farmers do not mind paying since the return they expect is also very high.

In fact, the second obstacle, namely the restriction on the construction of new ponds was regarded as a handicap to the rapid expansion of fish culture in the country, since for profitable fish culture, fertility of pond soil plays a very important part. This is more so because of scarcity of artificial feeds. Higher production cannot be expected from soil which is not fertile or unfit for paddy culture. Sandy, rocky or laterite soil is also unsuitable for pond construction.

The Government of Burma recently relaxed the regulations and an individual is allowed to construct ponds on land suitable for paddy culture, provided that he satisfies the following conditions as laid down in the notification issued by the Central Land Committee:

  1. “He shall apply to the District Superintendent of Land Records with details of the land, who would verify the statements made in the application and call upon the applicant to produce a site plan and give a guarantee that the excavation of land would commence within six months after the grant is made.”

  2. “The Superintendent of Land Records shall also verify the necessity of the acreage applied for and whether the construction of fish pond would be detrimental to the present cultivation in the adjacent land. He shall then request the Directorate of Fisheries to inspect the land as to whether it is technically suitable for such use.”

  3. “The case then shall be submitted to the District Security and Administrative Committee and then to the Divisional Security and Administrative Committee for approval. Finally, with this approval the case shall be submitted to the Central Land Committee who would study the case and shall decide. The decision shall be made on the merit of the benefit gained out of fish culture being much more than that of cultivation.”

Although the procedure is a lengthy one, this relaxation of the Land Act would provide a fresh impetus to the expansion of fish culture in Burma.

2.91 Commercial fish culture

Commercial fish culture in Burma is mainly carried out by the Government in the three fish farms under the management of PPFB. The activities of these farms, namely Twante, Tartapaw and Hlawga fish farms, have been dealt with earlier in this report. Further, the Government is encouraging fish culture on a cooperative basis. It is expected that in the near future commercial fish culture on a cooperative basis would be started in various parts of the country.

2.92 Homestead fish culture

Fish culture in Burma by private individuals is usually carried out on a small scale, mostly on subsistence level as a spare-time occupation. A large number of these fish farmers also sell the surplus fish produced after meeting their own requirements. The cultivable area under each fish farmer hardly exceeds two or three acres (about one hectare). This type of fish farming may be considered as homestead fish culture. The species cultivated are mainly major carp, catla, rohu, mrigal and a few others. Common carp and tilapia are also cultivated.

Collection of data for homestead fish culture was not satisfactory because very few fish farmers could furnish correct information and supply proper data as they do not maintain any records. Many were probably apprehensive that they would be taxed or their ponds nationalized, and did not give correct reports of fish production or fish sale. Information gathered in several cases could not be utilized for the evaluation of the economics of fish culture because it was found to be incorrect or even absurd. Data from only 11 fish farmers comprising the regions of upper, central and lower Burma were analysed in order to understand the economics of homestead fish culture in Burma. Out of the 11 farms, data were more or less complete in seven of them, and in others the exact production figure could not be obtained either because of loss of fish through some natural calamities or in a few cases harvesting did not take place until the time of collection of data. Collected data are given in a tabulated form in Appendix 6.

Results of the preliminary analysis of data on fish culture operations (homestead fish culture) in Burma gave the following mean figures:

Cost of pond construction per acre (0.4 ha)K 2 020.00 (approximately $429.00)
(present cost is K 3 000.00)
Fish production 1 per acre (0.4 ha) per annum613.6 kg
Gross income per acre (0.4 ha) per annumK 2 879.00 (approximately $605.00)
Total cost of production per acre (0.4 ha)K 1 195.00 (approximately $251.00)
Cost of production per kilogramme of fishK        1.95 (approximately 41 c)

1 This includes annual domestic consumption of fish calculated at 50 kg per fish farm/annum.

The details of the results of preliminary analysis of data including investment per acre, return per acre and cost of production of fish and related matters have also been provided in Appendix 6. For reasons discussed earlier, the findings can only be considered as tentative.

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