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Delicate question of Myanmar fishes...

Posted By: Mark in Vancouver <markmark@telus.net>
Date: Saturday, 15 May 2004, at 8:30 p.m.

Hi all.
This has been on my mind recently, and I have not mentioned it here, but now I would just like to hear your thoughts.
Recently word came from a Thai source that Botia kubotai is showing up in "alarming" numbers and some unusually large sizes in Thai fish markets. They are collected (according to the best I can find) from the Ataran river, which is exclusively inside Myanmar (Burma).
As most of you know, I'm sure, Myanmar is a currently under a military government - a kind of revolutionary army that ousted the British colonial rulers, and has since gone through a couple of transformations. Since the dawn of time, Myanmar's main export is opium, and corruption is said to exist there on a massive scale. I don't want to get into the politics.
Canadian papers recently reported that due to a rising demand for timber in China, it is thought that only 30% of Myanmar's old-growth forests still stand. The main population is extremely poor, and they have no access to things like UN training on sustainable development because of sanctions, etc...
At the end of the day, my best analysis of the fish trade there is that it is not regulated at all. The Salween and Irrawaddy rivers are chock full of loaches from Botias to hillstreams and everything in between. A lot of loaches are found only in Myanmar, including my last two acquisitions, the kubotai and the cherry-fin (Acanthocobitis rubidipinnis).

So here it is: how do we take an ethical approach to our role in the market for these fish? Do we bother? Do we boycott? How could we effect positive change? Letter writing? Contacting suppliers to our lfs?
It is my opinion that if no action is taken, and the current regime continues for, say another decade, very little will be left of the biodiversity of this gorgeous country.
I would like to open a discussion about this and hear what you all have to say. I think it may be time to do something, and I don't know what that should be.
Please comment freely on this!
Mark in Vancouver.
PS - no guilt trip about currently owning fish from this area, and I pass no blame on the people here, who at least how to care for the little lovelies.


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