Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fishery Department introduces media censorship

by Myo Thein

Rangoon (Mizzima) – The 'Myanmar Fishery Federation’ has imposed certain restrictions on the domestic media, on media coverage of fishery products and export figures issued by the government Fisheries Department, without getting prior approval from them.

A weekly journal reported the actual export figures of fishery products in its news report, and claimed that it was far below the targeted figure for 2008-09 fiscal in comparison with the previous financial year, in terms of percentage. Following the publication of that news report, the Fisheries Department put forth such restrictions on the local media.

The Myanmar Fishery Federation holds a Meeting for Development of Meat and Fishery every Tuesday, at its head office in West Gyogon, which is attended by responsible people from the Fishery Department, the concerned people from organizations under the Myanmar Fishery Federation, concerned people from the Livestock Federation and sometimes even the Minister of Livestock and Fishery attends these meetings.

During these meetings, the local media are usually allowed to attend and report the news emanating from the meeting freely, but currently an officer of FIQC, a section of the Fishery Department has said that news regarding these meetings must get prior approval from their office. He also informed the local media that this restriction had already been communicated to the notorious Censor Board.

Although the reason given for this restriction, was reportage of incorrect facts, the real reason was disclosure of the true facts of both export earnings and volumes far short of target, by a local weekly journal, a Rangoon-based journal editor said.

"The reason is reporting of these facts before being sent to Naypyitaw. The Fishery Federation usually discloses weekly and monthly export figures. Though the media are allowed to report these figures, they are not allowed to report these figures in an overview report, such as export figures and target for the whole financial year. All reporters, who are familiar with this department and organization, know about it. In this case, the journalist, who wrote this news, was summoned to their office and a complaint was also lodged with the Censor Board,” he told Mizzima.

Sources from this Fishery Department said that the officials usually adjust the export volume and foreign exchange earning figures for each financial year, before reporting to their higher authorities.

They do such adjustments to avoid criticism and blame, likely to be put on them by their higher authorities, the sources said.

"The export target for this financial year is USD 850 million and the actual export is just 56% of this target. The Fishery Department wants the local media to report this news only from a positive viewpoint. Now it seems to be pointing out their negative aspect. It seems likely that we have to write news reports, without facts and figures from now on," a source said.

The Fishery Sector stands fourth in export earnings in Burma and the export target for the 2008-09 financial year is USD 850 million. Even in the post-Nargis scenario, the fishery products export business was not affected much. However, the current global economic slowdown has hit this fishery sector hard, when it was just picking up.

Therefore, the department revised its export target in early 2009, to a more realistic USD 500 million from the previous USD 850 million. But the actual export earnings reached only USD 483.082 million at the end of the last financial year, which ended in March 2009.

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too