The Needs for Improving Legal and Institutional Framework For Fisheries and
Aquaculture in Myanmar
Author: Ms. Bui Thi Lan
Ms. Bui Thi Lan, FAO Representative in Myanmar
FAO Myanmar currently has been supporting the Government of Myanmar in a number of legislation issues concerning Fisheries and Aquaculture. However, the current legal instruments were developed at the end of the ‘1980s and beginning of the ‘1990s. Much has happened since and the legislation is in need of reform to improve its consistency with international treaties, voluntary legal instruments and best global practices. Furthermore, with the increasing importance of trade of fish and fishery products, the strengthening of the national legal framework to ensure consistency with global and regional standards on biosecurity has become a priority.
The need for improving the legal framework for fisheries and aquaculture was noted along with others in the course of the recent scientific survey of the Dr Fridjof Nansen research vessel, funded by the kingdom of Norway. This was carried out within the region during 2013 and the seasonal verification survey is being conducted at the time of writing. Against this background, the Myanmar Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development, by letter of 12 June 2014, requested the FAO for assistance to review the existing legal framework for fisheries and aquaculture. In response, the FAO has conducted an assessment of the whole situation in 2014 with the participation of a large number of government officials, private sector representatives and international agencies. The assessment provides a description of legal instruments that affect the sector and related institutions. It analyses the main fisheries legal instruments and contains recommendations to strengthen the country’s legislation, institutions related to marine fisheries, inland fisheries and aquaculture aiming toward sustainable management of fishery and aquaculture resources.
From 26 to 28 May 2015, the FAO Myanmar Office hosted a validation workshop where more than 30 representatives of the Department of Fisheries gathered to discuss the findings of the report and to provide recommendations on legislative and institutional priorities that would strengthen the sector. The workshop also provided an important opportunity for raising the awareness of international and regional legal instruments related to fisheries and aquaculture and the way in which these affect national legislation. Moreover, the legal implications of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries and Aquaculture were also discussed. The following outcomes of the assessment and consultations will be taken into consideration by the (Myanmar) Government in the preparation of updated legislation on fisheries and aquaculture, which is essential for strengthening the sector and for contributing to poverty alleviation and ensuring food security of Myanmar.
Recognition of the importance of designing ecological boundaries as a tool for fisheries management and need to establish a process for establishing such boundaries.
Including specific reference to the principle of the precautionary principle in fisheries to ensure that the precautionary principle in fisheries to ensure that the principle is used at the appropriate points in fisheries management decision-making;
Facilitating consultative processes, involving stakeholders in decision making and management;
Establishing mechanisms for interagency cooperation and coordination that allow the fisheries and aquaculture authorities to formally cooperate with other institutions that affect fisheries and aquaculture;
Establishing an adequate licensing system based on available scientific information with the application of the precautionary approach;
Providing the procedure for developing fisheries management plans and prescribe minimum elements of such fisheries management plans;
Providing specific monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement provisions and provide for adequate sanctions that act as a deterrent;