APFIC (The Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission) established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations publish a range of research documents, including research into Myanmar aquaculture and inland fisheries (note: 6.84 MB) available as a free download.
This report is the outcome of two concurrent missions, one to coastal areas and one to inland areas, fielded by FAO-RAP, the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The purpose was to review the status of aquaculture and small-scale inland fisheries, identify areas for technical assistance related to sustainable development of coastal and inland aquaculture and management of aquatic resources, and identify immediate assistance opportunities. The report includes the findings of the missions as well as conclusions and recommendations in support of the long term sustainability of fishery resources in Myanmar.
Fish and fish products are crucial in the nutrition and livelihoods of the Myanmar people. Whilst it is certainly recognized that fish is second only to rice in the diet of Myanmarians, little information is available on their patterns of consumption, inter-regional differences, availability and types of fish consumed. In this respect Myanmar is similar to many south-east Asian countries where emphasis is paid to rice production as a crucial element of food security, with little or no recognition of the fish component, which gives the rice-based diet much of its nutritional value outside of calories and crude protein.
Myanmar has impressive freshwater capture fisheries. The aquatic resource area of the river systems within Myanmar encompass a total of 8.2 million ha of permanent and seasonal water bodies. There were 29000 ha of freshwater fishponds and a further 40716 ha of shrimp ponds in 2001. These resources support, in many ways, the livelihoods of the people of Myanmar. Myanmar has a long coastline of nearly 3000 km and coastal aquaculture contributes significant export earnings and shows potential for future development and diversification. Of the total aquaculture production, an estimated 18794 tonnes comes from coastal aquaculture. Shrimp farming in particular has grown significantly in the past ten years, and small amounts of marine fish and crabs are also produced.
The FAO have also published this 1997 report on Support to Special Plan for Prawn and Shrimp Farming which gives some interesting insights into backyard scale shrimp hatcheries in Myanmar.
Neither intensive nor semi-intensive culture of shrimps has developed in Myanmar. Farming of marine shrimps has spread rapidly in South-east and South Asia, with exception of a few countries, including Myanmar. Myanmar’s neighbors Bangladesh to the north and Thailand to the south are both major producers of cultured marine shrimps. Culture of marine shrimps is now spreading rapidly in India. In all these countries export of cultured marine shrimps is a major earner of foreign exchange. There are about 30,00 acres (12,000 hectares) of traditional shrimp farms in operation which are mainly located in Rakhine State which borders with Bangladesh. The yield from the ponds are very low – 100 kgs/ha/year.