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Shocking Catch

April 15, 2016

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Photo Credit: ©Bonnie Lei/WCS

This shot shows rays caught by fishermen in Rakhine State, a boomerang shaped region on the western coast of Myanmar. They were snagged using a purse seine net, which is dropped around the school and then tightened at the top like a drawstring purse.

There are currently no laws in Myanmar prohibiting the catch of any ray species using licensed nets of this type. But what will hauls like this mean in the long run? We asked Bonnie Lei, a Marine Conservation and Policy Officer with WCS. She was on the scene at the landing site to study fishing practices in this area with an eye toward sustainability.

"Biologically speaking," she said, "such large catches, taking out nearly entire schools, can potentially be very unsustainable for a vulnerable species. We will need to do further study to see if the fishing coincides with breeding season and breeding grounds (which would be even more threatening for the species)."

This effort, said WCS Myanmar's marine director Martin Callow, is part of a broader push to address local fisheries. "By working in partnership with coastal communities, associations, and fisheries officers," he said, "we're aiming to develop fisheries co-management groups and plans in which issues such as unsustainable practices can be addressed."

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Photo Credit: ©Bonnie Lei/WCS

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