Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Factories blamed after third fish die-off

In the third mass die-off this year, tens of thousands of fish have died in Mandalay’s Lake Taungthaman. The number of dead fish appears to be less than in the previous events of April and May.

An Amarapura resident holds up dead fish at Taunthaman Lake. Photo: Si Thu Lwin / The Myanmar TimesAn Amarapura resident holds up dead fish at Taunthaman Lake. Photo: Si Thu Lwin / The Myanmar Times

This time, the finger is pointing at factory waste.

“I think these deaths occurred because factories disposed of their wastewater into the lake during the heavy rains,” said U Aung Lwin, who is in charge of the licensed fishery in the lake.

A technical investigation by the Myanmar Fisheries Federation cleared local factories of responsibility for the death of hundreds of thousands of fish in May in the Amarapura township tourist site.

U Aung Lwin said he had not seen such a case before. “If fish are killed during ebb-tide, the pile of dead fish can be seen at the bank. This case occurred when the level of water in the lake was high, and the dead fish are distributed throughout the lake, not at one place. But since so many fish were killed in the northern part of the lake, where the wastewater enters, we can conclude that wastewater was the cause. There are no dead fish in the southern part of the lake, where the Doktawaddy and Ayeyarwady rivers enter,” he told The Myanmar Times yesterday.

Industrial effluent from a distillery, a tannery, and factories making paper, sugar and soap in Mandalay Industrial Zone flows directly into Lake Taungthaman, while household and commercial wastewater leaches in via Pan Yan Taw Creek. According to the regional fisheries department, the pollution impairs oxygenation and leads to the death of fish.

Department head U Myo Aung said, “At a time of higher water levels caused by heavy rain, five or six fish are killed in a one- or two-acre pond. For the entire lake, the fish will die in significant numbers.”

 Translation by Thiri Min Htun