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Title: Sustainable Inland Fisheries for Burmese Food Security in an Era of Global Change
Theme: Improved Health and Nutrition, Food Security, and Food Safety
Lead US University: Michigan State University
All research activities are occurring within the United States, but Michigan State University partners work with faculty at Yangon University in Burma.
Burma is economically one of the poorest countries in Asia, with up to 26% of its population currently living in poverty. The Burmese people rely heavily upon their local inland fisheries for nutrition, particularly in rural communities. In addition to food security, inland fisheries contribute greatly to the local economy and livelihoods. For instance, the Burma Department of Fisheries (DOF) estimates that the entire (marine, inland, aquaculture) fisheries sector provided about 3,201,923 jobs (including part time and daily workers and people working in fish-processing related jobs), approximately 30% of the total workforce in Burma. Despite the importance of fish to the well-being (e.g., food, nutrition, and livelihoods) of the Burmese people, there currently is limited information concerning the drivers, functions, and dynamics of the productivity of the diverse set of small-scale wild-caught fisheries and aquaculture systems that comprise the inland fisheries resources of Burma. With limited professional capacity in the region and a complex and poorly understood inland fisheries system, opportunities for understanding resource dynamics and capitalizing on the potential contributions of aquatic resources from wild caught and aquaculture produced fish to human welfare and economic well-being are likely to be undervalued. This can lead to the exclusion of inland fisheries from water policy decisions and negatively impact the people who depend on these freshwater resources. Therefore, this US-based desk study will focus on filling gaps of understanding in fisheries and aquaculture. Using existing data, the investigations will 1) highlight the crucial role that inland fisheries, both wild-capture and aquaculture, play in supplying micronutrients to the Burmese diet and they will also contribute to the goal of strengthening fisheries management and addressing issues of food security and human wellbeing in Burma in relation to its freshwater fisheries resources; and 2) complete a risk assessment of how the contribution of fisheries could be affected by the impending changes in climate conditions.