Thursday, April 21, 2011

Arakan State Government Prepares to Auction Rivers and Offshore Plots for Fishing

Sittwe: The newly formed Arakan State government is preparing to auction off rivers and offshore plots for fishing for the 2011 - 2012 fiscal year, against the will of the Arakanese people, said community leaders.

A-young-boy-fishing-on-a-river-of-Arakan A young-boy fishing on a river of Arakan
The fishery department of Arakan State has just announced a call for tenders in order to auction off the fishing plots in rivers and coastal waters.

U San Tun Kyaw, a fishing boat owner from Sittwe, said, "The authority will hold the auction in Sittwe on 29 April, 2011 for rivers and offshore plots, and now the authority has delivered a notice of a call for tender among the public. All rivers, creeks, and offshore plots will be tendered by authorities on the day."

In Arakan State, the government authority has been auctioning all rivers, creeks, and offshore plots to businessmen for fishing every year since 1988. In that time, ordinary Arakanese people have been deprived of fishing waters.

"Before 1988, there was not this system in Arakan State. Everyone could fish freely anywhere on the rivers, creeks, and offshore areas throughout Arakan State. When the military government came to power, they used the system of auctioning rivers and creeks to businessmen," he said.

In the past, ordinary Arakanese people had the opportunity to fish with their own nets for their daily sustenance without being taxed, but that right was taken away after the authority began auctioning off fishing plots.

A teacher from Ray Chan Byint Village in Sittwe Township said, "Our people need free fishing zones for people's daily requirements in some major rivers, including the Kaladan, Mayu, and Laymyo. We hoped the new Arakan State government will fulfill our people's desire by arranging some parts of the rivers for people as free fishing zones, but the government has neglected the people's will and is arranging to carry out the same auction of all rivers, creeks, and offshore plots like the previous military government."

Ko Saw Hla Zan, a social worker from Sittwe said, "The government should give a free fishing zone near Sittwe Point offshore area for ordinary people. People are suffering with the area being auctioned to businessmen, and do not have any opportunity at present to carry out their traditional subsistence work without tax."

Ordinary people in Arakan State have to pay tax to the auction winners whenever they go to the rivers and creeks for fishing with their small fishing nets for their daily food requirements.

"The Arakanese people strongly oppose the system of auction, but the authority ignored this. Now the new Arakan State government is preparing to auction the rivers, creeks, and offshore areas against people's wishes. How can the government gain people's support by opposing the public will?" Ko Saw Hla Zan said.
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