That time of year — El Niño warning puts fish farmers on alert

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Soe Soe Yu

THE Myanmar Fisheries Federation (MFF) yesterday warned of the impact of El Niño on fish farming, calling for necessary measures to be undertaken to avoid possible losses.

High temperatures caused by El Niño can kill farmed fish, said the MFF, expressing worries over the possible death of farmed fish while the country’s fish farms are in the stage of recovery in the aftermath of the floods last year.

Last year’s flooding destroyed more than 30,000 fish farms in several parts of the country, said Dr Myint Swe, secretary of Myanmar Fish Farmers Association under the federation.

The more damage there was to infrastructure, the slower the recovery, he added.

According to the MFF, there is a prediction that the country’s fisheries sector is likely to get worse in 2016 than in previous years due to natural disaster-affected inland fisheries and shortage of fish stock to catch in the waters of the country.

According to statistics, fish stocks caught in Myanmar waters was 1.1 million tons in the 1980s but there has been a gradual decrease in the country’s fish production since 2013, declining to 103,000 tons. Despite being supported by the ministry concerned for recovery of the country’s aquaculture sector with the provision of fingerlings worth K150 million, a certain amount of time is needed for the farmed fish to be ready for public consumption, said the secretary.

For this year, the volume of fish stocks to produce for self-sufficiency is more important than exports, added the secretary, predicting an increase in prices of fish due to the destructive impacts of floods on freshwater fish farms last year.

Although Myanmar earned US$86 million from the export of 7.9 million tons of fish stock in 2015, reaching the $120 million fish export target will be impossible for this fiscal year, said the MFF.