Narinjara News

Jellyfish gone out of market

Sittwe, 27 May 03: 
Jellyfish, the hot item in last year’s export from the western Rakhine State of Burma has hit a snag, reports our correspondent.  Unlike in last year, the jellyfish has either eluded the Burmese fishermen or declined in their number in the Bay of Bengal, a source in the fisheries trade said.

Last year during the world cup football tournament the price of jellyfish shot up from kyat 1.25 million to 2.5 million kyat.  Most of the buyers came from China, which imported the jellyfish from the bay through Burma.  On a workday tonnes of processed jellyfish would be seen shipped and trucked to Rangoon from where the merchandise would be seen heading towards the borders of China

The price of jellyfish at present stands at between kyat 30 and 40 million a tonne.

This year due to the dwindling number of jellyfish the fishermen have been facing hard luck and the money the businessmen invested in the trade can hardly be recovered.

A jellyfish buying house owner was given the permission to do trade only when he/she could pay kyat five million as annual deposit money to the Western Command beginning last month.   Out of the deposit kyat 40 million was refunded while the rest was kept by the Western Command, according to Kyaw Thein, the chairman of the Jellyfish buyers’ association.  Last year there were 178 jellyfish buying houses in Rakhine State while this year the number has gone up, but strangely enough the fish either moved elsewhere or was fished to extinction, he added. 

The trade in jellyfish included huge bribes to the Burmese junta officials and law enforcement agencies including the navy, military and intelligence forces.  It is alleged that for obtaining a business and trade licence the buyer as well as the seller of jellyfish had to pay kyat 100,000 each as the licence fee besides bribes at the countless checkpoints on land and the sea.

The jellyfish is a seasonal item and it can only be caught during the monsoon months between April and October every year.  #