Following a request from the representative of Myanmar made during the 13th NACA Governing Council meeting in 2002, a mission was organized to Myanmar from 2 to 12 December 2002. The mission comprised expertise from NACA, FAO and Australia (AIMS and ACIAR).
The purpose of the mission was:
To review status of aquaculture and small-scale inland fisheries;
To identify areas for technical assistance to Myanmar to address some priority concerns related to sustainable development of coastal and inland aquaculture and management of aquatic resources; and
To identify immediate assistance opportunities through the NACA framework and other donor-mediated mechanisms.
After an initial period in Yangon, the mission split into two teams: one team visited coastal areas and the other team visited the inland areas. The results of these two missions are presented as seperate reports:
Mission report on inland fisheries and aquaculture
Mission report on coastal aquaculture
Pedro B. Bueno, Director-General, Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia and Pacific (NACA), Thailand
Bernard R. Smith, Research Program Manager (Fisheries), Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Australia
Sena De Silva, Professor, Deakin University, Australia.
Frank Tirendi, Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS), Australia
Simon Funge-Smith, Aquaculture and Inland Fisheries Officer, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP), Thailand
Graham Haylor, Director STREAM/NACA, Thailand
Michael J. Phillips, Environment Specialist NACA, Thailand
Pornlerd Chanratchakool, Shrimp Health Management Specialist, Aquatic Animal Health Research Institute (AAHRI), Thailand
Myanmar has a coastline of nearly 3 000 km, a continental shelf of 228 000 km2 and an Exclusive Economic Zone of 486 000 km2. Inland freshwater bodies cover 8.1 million ha of which 1.3 million ha are permanent; the remainder are seasonally inundated floodplains.
Fisheries are the fourth most important source of export earnings, valued at US$ 218 million in 2001 (DoF, 2002). Marine capture fisheries is reported to produce 932 090 tonnes, freshwater capture fisheries 235 530 tonnes (DoF estimates of leasable, open and floodplain) and aquaculture 115 870 tonnes.
It is uncertain whether marine or freshwater capture fisheries still have expansion potential, although recent reviews have suggested that the inland fisheries potential of Myanmar is far greater than the 235 000 tonnes reported (possibly as much as 600 000-900 000 tonnes based on revised estimates from the Mekong system). This is partly due to the non-inclusion of fisheries production for household consumption which is predominantly derived from rice fields and their associated streams and channels.
Official Statistics are typically focused on fish production and in particular, revenue generating exports. This tends to exclude or undervalue the wide range of other aquatic products that are also routinely consumed in rural households. The leasable inland fisheries may also be benefiting from the effects of interventions aimed at enhancing production, which also gives encouraging potential for increased contribution for the inland fisheries sector in supporting the livelihoods and food security of the people of Myanmar.