Poisoning Endangers Giant Prawns in Arakan Coast

Thandwe: Widespread use of poison is endangering the scarce lobster or giant prawn population on the coast of western Burma’s Arakan State, said a local environmentalist.

“The hunters of lobsters are now widely using poison to catch the scarce lobsters in Arakan coast and if they continue this practice, the lobsters in our coast will quickly become extinct”, said the environmentalist from Thandwe in south eastern Arakan State, on condition of anonymity.

He said the lobsters inhabit the undersea rock masses and the hunters dive into the sea where rock masses are and pipe the liquid poison into and around the rocks in order to catch the lobsters running out from their hiding places.

“They are using this technique to catch the lobsters very easily, but this technique hurts not only the lobsters but also fishes and other creatures that are living in and wandering around the rock masses”, he said.

According to the fishermen from Jatetaw Fishing Zone in Thandwe, where undersea coral reefs and rock masses are abundant, the lobster hunting causes a great disturbance to their fishing industries as well.

“The poison used for lobster hunting can stay in the water for a long time and no marine creature, including fishes can come close to the poisoned waters and this hurts our fishing industries in the area a great deal as well”, said one of the fishermen.

The lobsters in Arakan Coast are different in type and colour, and are the most expensive seafood exported to foreign countries via Rangoon. The standard lobsters are now priced at 80,000 Kyat per viss, while the sub-standard lobsters at 45,000 Kyat per viss in the markets in Arakan State.

The environmentalist said they have complained about the use of poison for lobster hunting to the Directorate of Fisheries. As the hunting continues it threatens the extinction of lobsters as well as other endangered species inhabiting the undersea rock masses on the coast of the region, but the department is still reluctant to take the necessary steps to stop the hunting.