Fish, seafood and products derived from fish are a staple of daily diet in Myanmar. From Mohinga to the ubiquitous fish paste present in countless dishes. The wellbeing of Myanmar and her people are intrinsically linked to the that of the seas and ocean along the country’s coastlines.
However due to climate change and overfishing this once bountiful source of nutrition is at serious risk, potentially impacting the livelihoods of thousands of people living in Myanmar. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) estimates consumption of fisheries products at 47.8 kg/year in 2016, over twice the global average. This figure is likely to increase rapidly as Myanmar’s economy grows and putting even more pressure on marine life.
At present, the output of aquaculture products is dwarfed by capture fisheries; however, the volume of aquaculture products has been growing steadily over the past decade at a slow rate. Conversely, the growth in output of capture fisheries has slowed since 2016 presenting an opportunity for aquaculture products to increase their share of their contribution to total fisheries output.
Agriculture, which employs 70% of the workforce, remains seasonal and year-round employment is often difficult to come by forcing many workers to keep a second job to supplement their income. Given the labour-intensive nature of the activity the growth of aquaculture has the potential to bridge the gap in employment during seasons where work is scarcer.
It is now more critical than ever to move towards more sustainable fisheries that can meet the nutritional needs of a growing population that adds value to the economy all the while minimizing their overall environmental impact. A shift towards a more sustainable model of fisheries would be an important addition to Myanmar’s contribution towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals by addressing food insecurity, sustainable consumption and stresses of life under water.
The Department of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation launched the National Aquaculture Development Plan (NADP) on Marth 13th 2020 in Naypyidaw. The NADP demonstrates Myanmar’s commitment to attaining aquaculture development in a sustainable and inclusive way. This document lays down objectives with programs, actions (activities), resources and a schedule to achieve them and will guide the sectors future sustainable development. The drafting process of NADP was organized by the Myanmar Sustainable Aquaculture Programme (MYSAP) with the funding from the European Union and Germany while the Centre for Economic and Social Development of Myanmar carried out the necessary research studies and consultations with a wide range of stakeholders across the country to draft the plan.
At the event, H.E. Dr Aung Thu, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation remarked that the NADP “serves as a roadmap for the government to work hand-in-hand with the private sector to accelerate the growth of the sector for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
In his opening remarks Ambassador of the European Union to Myanmar Mr. Kristian Schmidt stated that the NADP “will benefit children and nutrition, create jobs, stimulate investments and trade, benefit the environment and increase government capacity.”
Speaking at the event, Ambassador of Germany to Myanmar Mr. Thomas Neisinger also stressed that “Germany is a reliable partner for Myanmar. We are committed to support Myanmar’s transition towards democracy and a fair market economy and to further strengthen its civil Society, and NADP is one important opportunity to realize this commitment.”
Following the opening remarks, a celebratory handover of the NADP from the Ambassadors of EU and Germany to the Acting Director General of the DOF marks the launch of the NADP and kickstarting it’s implementation. Afterwards panel of experts chaired by Dr. Zaw Oo of CESD discussed the implementation of the plan by addressing bottleneck issues such as budget, cross sectoral performances and regional planning. It is also noted that model regional plans for aquaculture development will be further developed in the regions such as Ayeyarwady Region and Shan State that are currently undergoing partnership with MYSAP in developing aquaculture initiatives.
You can read the full NADP in Myanmar language and English at the link below.