Local shrimp market shrinking on falling US demand

As the US has stopped buying wild shrimp, the local market for shrimp is shrinking, U Hnin Oo, deputy chair of Myanmar Shrimp Association, told The Myanmar Times.

In the past, Myanmar exported both wild and farmed shrimp to the US, EU as well as its neighbours in ASEAN. However, the US has said that it will no longer import shrimp caught in the wild and will buy only farmed shrimp from Myanmar.

“The US has said that it will stop importing wild shrimp and will buy only shrimp bred in local fish farms. So, the shrimp market is limited now. Although we have many markets besides the US, we have lost one of the biggest. Now, we are in a situation where the focus is on breeding shrimp to recapture that market,” said U Hnin Oo.

According to him, the US stopped buying wild shrimp from Myanmar without providing reasons, which could include anything from the crisis in Rakhine or damage to the marine ecosystem and environment.

The decline in US demand comes just as the shrimp market is recovering from US sanctions, which were fully removed just last year and as it is mulling renewed sanctions on the Myanmar military as a result of a humanitarian crisis involving 600,000 displaced Rohingya from Rakhine.

So far though, the US is the only country which has stopped buying wild shrimp from Myanmar. Currently, the country still exports wild and farmed shrimp to the EU, China and Thailand.

Nevertheless, farmed shrimp now makes up just about a fifth of total shrimp exports while the remaining are shrimp caught in the wild, according to the Myanmar Shrimp Association.

“We are now restarting shrimp breeding to remedy the current situation where countries are no longer buying wild shrimp. However, the current volume is not enough to serve even the local market,” said U Hnin Oo.

As such, local shrimp farms in Yangon are now working with the Yangon Regional government to expand their breeding capacity.

Before the breeding work starts, field studies are made to determine whether there are advantages for breeding shrimp in the area. Training is also given for breeding, he said.

The current government is interested in boosting the fishery sector to accelerate the State’s GDP growth. A Marine Product Zone will be implemented in Twante and Yangon area to promote growth in the sector, Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein said during a meeting with local businesses recently.

Twante, Thongwa and Kayan have been targeted for the implementing of the marine zones and field studies are also being made currently. “They are studying whether seawater shrimps can be bred in Thongwa and Kayan or not. Meanwhile, if freshwater shrimps can be bred in Twante, a marine zone will be implemented there, too,” said U Hnin Oo.

The marine zones will include support for water-related industries such as breeding stations for fish, shrimps as well as a feed factory, freezing factory and laboratories.

The breeding business takes for a long time and shrimp cannot be exported over a short period, said U Hnin Oo.

Source : Myanmar Times

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