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Myanmar Cuts Fishing Licenses By 25 Percent Myanmar, June 19, 13

In a move to prevent further declines of fish stocks, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries cut by 25 percent the number of licenses it handed out to fishing boats for the monsoon fishing season, which started on June 1.

The move follows an announcement by the ministry in April that the length of the season – one of three annually – would be cut from 90 to 45 days, following reports from industry groups warning that fish stocks are declining.

Myanmar Fisheries Federation member U Han Htun said both moves will help the industry in the long term but some fishermen will lose their income this season. He called on the government to assist them.

The Myanmar Fisheries Association said dock workers and employees of fish processing plants will also see lower incomes.

Fishery workers in Yangon and Tanintharyi regions and Rakhine State will be the most affected, industry representatives said. There is little fishing off the coast of Ayeyarwady Region and Mon State during the monsoon season because the weather makes it too dangerous, fishermen from the region say.

There are four main fishing docks in Yangon Region, employing at least 1600 workers, industry representatives said. There are also 30 cold-storage facilities that employ about 20,000 workers, while another 20,000 people are employed in factories that dry fish.

Inland fisheries are closed during the monsoon months.

The fishing industry is also facing tighter restriction on exports.

China asked the government last month to ensure all marine-product exports to China are inspected before leaving Myanmar to ensure that they match the same import regulations the EU imposes, a spokesperson for the Myanmar Fishery Products Processors and Exporters Association said. If fish exports to China are not inspected before they leave Myanmar they will not be allowed into China, U Zaw Win said. The new restrictions were established by China’s Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine panel, he said.

The regulations force fish-processing plants to adhere to a new set of safety and quality regulations.

Some fisheries products – including dried fish and prawn, eel and soft crab – can still be exported to China without prior inspection, U Zaw Win said.

The fisheries department is assisting fish processing plants to ensure their products meet the requirements.

The regulations are the latest in a series of moves by China to raise the quality of fish imports from Myanmar, including inspections of local fish-meal plants last year.

As a result of those inspections, six of 11 fish-meal exporting companies were registered by China’s inspection panel.