Assessment of the Status of the Fishery of Indwagyi Lake, Myanmar Using Traditional Ecological Knowledge
Asian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Research,
Aims: Indawgyi Lake, in northern Myanmar, is the country’s largest lake and among the largest in Southeast Asia. Although the lake’s fishery provides an important source of food and livelihoods, relatively little is known about the status of its fishery and how human actions are affecting it. Further, some basic information on fish populations has not been documented, such as the extent to which fish migrate, either downstream toward the Ayeyarwady River or into the lake’s tributaries. Similar to other lakes in the region (e.g., Inle Lake in central Myanmar), the fishing practices of Indawgyi Lake appear to be intensifying. Thus, improved understanding of the lake’s fishery and fish-migration patterns can inform future management.
Study Design: To gather preliminary information, we surveyed 6 villages around Indawgyi Lake collecting Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) about the migratory behavior of fish and current state of the fishery.
Place and Duration of Study: Hepa, Hepu, Lone Ton, Lonsant, Mamon Kaing, and Nyaung Bin along Indawgyi Lake in Myanmar
Methodology: We interviewed in large groups at 6 villages (approximately 60 fishermen overall), aggregating results into the six village groups due to the consensus style of interviews. We performed subsequent analyses using Google Earth Engine.
Results: Fishermen reported that nearly all the fish they commonly catch are migratory, with most using upstream tributaries for spawning during the wet season. Fishermen also reported that, although most tributaries remained in good condition, several have been severely impacted by land-use changes, including gold mining. Fishermen consistently reported that harvest levels have declined dramatically in the past two decades even as they deploy more nets. Across the villages interviewed, the top recommendation to combat declines was to increase/strengthen enforcement of regulations.
Conclusion: This research demonstrates the utility of TEK to provide preliminary information on poorly studied systems that can inform conservation and management.
- Freshwater fishery
- Indawgyi Lake
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