Narinjara News

Why has the Permit for trade in Jellyfish not issued this year?

Sittwe, 24
th March 03:   The rivalry among the high junta officials in Rangoon including those in the Western Command of Burma, covering Rakhine State, for the official permit to carry on trade in jellyfish has forced postponement of leasing out the lucrative deal this year, our correspondent quoted a jellyfish trader, Kyaw Thein,  in Sittwe, capital of Rakhine State in the western part of Burma.

Last year the permit to do business in jellyfish was issued to a well-known businessman of the capital.   He had to pay a total of kyat fifty million to the Western Commander Brigadier General Maung Oo, for obtaining the permit.  The Commander leased out the Kaladan River, the chief river of Rakhine State, to another businessman for another kyat twenty million.  Though the fifty million kyat went to the coiffure of the ruling SPDC Burmese junta, the twenty million collected by illegal leasing out of the river is alleged to have been misappropriated by the Western Commander himself.  The entire rights to monopolize the jellyfish trade and the illegal taxation on the entire river raised many unanswered questions, said the source.

Since the deals have proved very lucrative, high-ranking officials from Rangoon as well as the local business community and the officials in Rakhine State have expressed their enthusiasm to compete for an open bid for the leasing process.   Besides that high officials in the junta have also shown their interest in either handling the deal or getting the permit for oneself or one’s partners.  Even after getting the sole right to carry on the trade in jellyfish the businessmen engaged in running to do the business has to give a certain percentage as share to his own business to the western commander, it was learnt.  The same goes true to leasing out of rivers and creeks.  The junta officials in control of the leasing out from the state level down to the village tracts are regularly bribed for keeping the trades and deals going without any hindrances.

The monopoly in jellyfish is carried out through a pyramidal chain  all the fishermen in the lowest level of the pyramid bring their catch to the relevant ‘buying houses’ in all the villages and towns engaged in the trade, where the fishermen are paid kyat 40/60 according to the sizes of the jellyfish.  The jellyfish are then processed in a solution of salt and alum for a week till the fish becomes hard.  Then the jellyfish is sold to Chinese buyers by the tons. 

During the summer when the salinity of the coastal waters go up, huge numbers of jellyfish are found in the coasts of Rakhine State.  The business in jellyfish is therefore very lucrative as it brings money in a very short season, the source said.  #