A workshop focusing on issues among migrant fishermen in Ye Township was held last Friday in Ye Town after the CPRCG spent four days observing and interviewing migrant fisherman in the area.
“In a single place, you can see a hundred fishermen at work. It is possible that none of those hundred fishermen is registered,” said Ko Nay Tun.
According to a fishery employer in attendance at the workshop, there are around 3,000 migrant fishermen working in Ye Township who come mostly from the Pegu and Irrawaddy regions. Data from the Ye Township Fishery Department indicates that there are only 1,000 fishermen operating in the area with legal, registered permits.
“There are fishermen who the employers do not register but have an understanding with. Fishermen [without legal permits] are most likely not working on the sea, or in boats, but fishing off of rafts,” said U Zaw Min Oo, chief officer of the Ye Township Fishery Department.
According to Ko Nay Htun, fishermen who are not registered may be less inclined to follow local laws.
“Because they are not legally permitted, they do not appear on any registration list. They are free to stay by the sea and just live there.”
Last year, there were reportedly 45 sea-related deaths in Ye Township. According to Ko Jimmy, another workshop organizer and the director of a human rights and justice advocacy organization, fishery owners and government departments did not adequately handle the loss-of-life cases.
In 2015, fisherman working along the township’s Andaman Sea coast reportedly committed around 19 crimes including rape, robbery and murder, according to the Ye Town Police Station.
The Ye Township Fishery Department stated that there are 171 boats fishing offshore in the area, with 450 fishing boats and numerous fishing rafts near the shore. Most of the fishermen live in Abaw Kyar-Than, Chaung Taung, Ahzin, and Zee Pyu Taung villages.
Representatives from the local police force, Department of Fisheries, civil society organizations in Ye and Pyay townships, and resident fishery facilities were present at the workshop that was held at the Sarsanar 2500 Pagoda in Ye Town’s Thiri Kaymar Quarter.