Friday, August 18, 2017

Myeik Archipelago villagers help conserve coral reef

The first Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA) in Myanmar have been identified and designated as fish conservation zones.

Director General of the Fisheries Department, U Khin Maung Maw, said the coral reefs in the waters in the Myeik Archipelago along three villages at Thayawthadangyi and Lagan island group will be the first locally managed marine conservation areas in the country.

Designating these areas as fish conservation zones that will be managed by local villagers will not only protect the coral reef habitat and ensure that important fish, small crustacean species crabs thrive, but also open up job opportunities and supplement incomes, he added.

Coral reefs provide an ideal habitat for the fish to spawn and serve as a protective zone while they mature to adults.

U Zaw Lunn, marine biologist at Fauna and Flora International (FFI) Myanmar Programme coordinator said the coral reefs are a natural habitat of marine creatures.

Destruction of the coral area will result in the destruction of the natural habitat and breeding ground of marine life, said U Zaw Lunn.

“When the fish reach maturity, they leave the coral areas but return in time to spawn and lay eggs so that there is continuity of the species. And that is why it is important to conserve coral reefs,” said U Zaw Lunn.

The villagers have agreed to catch only the fish that come out from the coral area when they reach maturity.

Local fishing communities will manage the local marine areas through a zoning system that will ensure sustainable local fisheries.

A press release from FFI said that the villagers have agreed that the coral reefs are no fishing zones and the area will serve as nursery grounds for marine life.

According to Frank Momberg, FFI Myanmar director, experience in Indonesia has shown that LMMAs with no fishing zones are critical for the development of fish nursery grounds.

It can lead to a recovery of fish stock within two years and improve local fish population while the spill-over effects will be felt in the surrounding coastal waters.