Migratory fishes in Myanmar rivers and wetlands: challenges for sustainable development between irrigation water control infrastructure and sustainable inland capture fisheries

Irrigated agriculture and maintaining inland capture fisheries are both essential for food and nutrition security in Myanmar. However, irrigated agriculture through water control infrastructure, such as sluices or barrages, weirs and regulators, creates physical barriers that block migration routes of important fish species. Blocking of fish migration routes, leading to a degradation of inland capture fisheries, will undermine Myanmar’s efforts to develop sustainably and meet the sustainable development goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), and the sustainability targets within the national Myanmar Sustainable Development Plans, as well as its Agricultural Development Strategy and Investment Plan. Despite the ambitious international and national targets, there is no explicit policy or legislation and no examples of where fish have been considered in the development or operation of irrigation infrastructure in Myanmar. Solutions are needed that provide opportunities to achieve multi-objective outcomes within irrigation infrastructure and water use. This can be achieved by increasing cross-sectoral collaboration in irrigation projects, improving capacity, increasing research within country by experts and providing technical solutions to aid in better management and mitigation options. This paper explores the various components of policy and governance, institutional and educational capacity and technical and management-based practices needed to plan and integrate better migratory fish and technical needs within irrigated agricultural infrastructure in Myanmar.