Indawgyi Lake is the largest lake in Myanmar, and the second largest in Southeast Asia. The lake and its surrounding wetlands provide important habitat for nearly 100 bird species, as well as dozens of fish species that support fisheries for many communities around the lake. However, the lake’s fisheries have been declining due to a variety of threats, including illegal electrofishing, widespread fishing with small mesh gillnets, and runoff from gold mining. FISHBIO advised Fauna & Flora International (FFI) Myanmar in the establishment of community co-managed Fish Conservation Zones (FCZs) as part of a larger project to support freshwater biodiversity in the region. The complex FCZ landscape in Indawgyi Lake includes historical FCZs recognized by the Fisheries Department, FCZs established by a local organization (Friends of Wildlife) with support of the Forestry Department, and new FCZs proposed by FFI to protect recently described species that are endemic to the lake.
FISHBIO attended community meetings with 8 villages around Indawgyi and shared our experiences working with communities in Laos to establish FCZs. We also provided examples of FCZ regulations and signs drafted by Lao communities to inform the development of village FCZ agreements in Indawgyi. FISHBIO staff trained local FFI staff in how to conduct fisherman interviews and collect basic fisheries information, and provided a format for workshops and facilitated discussion. We also provided general advising about the development of an FCZ zonation plan, alternative livelihood development for fishermen, stakeholder collaboration, and FCZ demarcation and enforcement.