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Last diary from R/V Dr. Fridtjof Nansen

Even good things have to come to an end and now the Myanmar cruise with R/V Dr. Fridtjof Nansen is over. We have been at sea for 6 weeks and it has been an amazing survey in many ways. We have seen an astonishing biodiversity of fish with wonderful colours and remarkable shapes. We have conducted 150 trawl hauls, 100 plankton hauls and 200 environmental stations (salinity, temperature, fluorescence and oxygen). We have taken more than 500 high resolution pictures of all the fish and crustaceans species caught and we have preserved some fish for further species identification.

More than 200 genetic samples are also collected, so are 150 samples of the sediment from each of the bottom trawl hauls. We have recorded acoustic signals of fish and plankton as we have sailed along the coast of Myanmar covering a distance of close to 5 000 nautical miles. Biomass estimates of the commercial species will be estimated and numbers presented in the final survey report. Samples of nutrients, chlorophyll, zooplankton biomass, as well as species identification of zooplankton and phytoplankton will be conducted in various labs in the coming months.

Another important part of this cruise is capacity building and to teach local Myanmar scientists in survey techniques and scientific sampling methods. The 12 local scientists have done most of the work described above, with guidance and instructions from the 4 Norwegian scientists. They have worked in two shifts so that the vessel has been sailing almost non-stop, from start to end of the cruise (only with a short stop in Yangon in the middle of the cruise). Every day, the work has become more and more familiar, and they have been working with a focused enthusiasm which is quite rare. They have a fantastic attitude towards the work they are doing and they take good care of each other. Some of the participants are quite young and I hope Myanmar will have the opportunity to provide them with further education, interesting and meaningful jobs. They do for sure have the potential to become great scientists and managers. Myanmar can be really proud of their effort. Read more about the local scientists’ experiences onboard at the end of this diary, written in their own words.

All data collected from this survey belongs to Myanmar and will be handed over by the end of the survey. This places a big responsibility on Myanmar’s scientists and government to find a sound way of using this data and information further. Hopefully the data can be used to start new research projects which will focus on the sea and how it best should be managed to create a sustainable fishery. A workshop will be held in the beginning of next year to sum up the results from the survey and hand over the survey report. Since the results from the survey will be used in fish assessment and discussions of future management policies and plans, also the limitations and constraints of the survey data should be discussed. For example, a seasonal variation of the fish abundance should be expected - how will this affects the usefulness of the data and how useful will a second cruise, during the pre-monsoon, be for the stock assessment? The anthropogenic drivers with largest effects on the ecosystem are most probably fisheries and climate change. Negative impact from fisheries includes overfishing of several of the smaller stocks in the area and damage to benthic communities caused by bottom trawling. Failing reproduction and negative population trends could be effects of anthropogenic induced climate change.
In addition to the post survey workshop, all the data collected could become the basis for several scientific papers, Master and PhD studies. The pictures taken can be used to update or produce new fish identification guides. The detailed records of position of all samples taken could be the basis for a species atlas or serve as input to regional management plans with identification of areas with vulnerable species, high biological production, low oxygen etc. Key species for the ecosystem should also be identified. The data collected during the cruise can also be used to give a comprehensive description of the marine ecosystem of Myanmar. Such a report could act as a scientific basis for further development of a holistic ecosystem based management plan for Myanmar and contribute to further developing ecosystem based management in the area. Both FAO, BOBLME and IMR have a lot of experience and tools that can be made available for Myanmar in the future.

Many thanks to the officers and crew of the R/V Dr. Fridtjof Nansen for their skills, continuous support and for making this cruise a successful and enjoyable one. I would also like to thank the Union Deputy Minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development Mr. Khin Maung Aye for his greetings and great interest in the results from the survey. It is also quite impressing that he fly down to meet the local cruise participants when they leave the vessel.

Here come some ending remarks from our fantastic Myanmar team

The local cruise leader Mya Than Tun
I enjoy very much working and staying at R/V Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, this is the first time in my life working onboard a real marine fisheries research vessel. I have been onboard many other research vessel, those have been very different from this vessel. The accommodation and the scientific equipments are very modern. The captain and crew also warmly help when I am staying and working in the cruise. The scientists from Norway do also have the best working experience, so I learn a lot of their experience. Every day we found new species and some we did not manage to identify. If we have a chance in the future I would very much like to work and study again.



Htun Thein (PhD), Department of Fisheries, Myanmar

Myanmar has been widely regarded as one of the biodiversity richest countries in the Asia and Pacific Region. However, biodiversity in our country has been dwindling for many years due to the lack of integrated efforts for the sound protection and management of biodiversity. Indeed, biodiversity is very special for our welfare since it is the major component of life supporting system. In light of the recent development in Myanmar, it is imperative that the development needs of the country be addressed. Higher research will provide such development support through enhanced strong capacity in the areas corresponding to the development needs of the country.

The oceanographic survey is very important in order to understand how the ocean ecosystem is functioning and how much productivity Myanmar waters are contributing. In order to make a management measure, this study is most important, and sought to broadly understand present marine resources status.

We have never really thought about ecological survey study by Dr. Fridtjof Nansen research vessel before in Myanmar water. Fortunately, we have pursued an ecosystem survey collaborating with crew, steward, chef, engineers, technicians, scientists and officers and captain. Having an understanding those persons with enthusiasm, encouragement and forbearing guidance and excellent service and laboratory equipment are helping to improve our studies and made our research life enjoyable. We strongly believe that this study will be a support to make the sustainable fisheries management and also building the capacity of Myanmar to be able for the management of marine resources using the ecosystem approach. We hereby appreciate all participants in their outstanding contribution to ecosystem survey in Myanmar water, and enjoying R/V Dr. Fridtjof Nansen hospitality.
Finally, I would like to say for all participants that I never say GOOD BYE because I hope that we will all meet again.



Plankton and Environmental Group (Nyo-Nyo-Tun, Zin-Lin-Khine, Naung-Naung-Oo and Myo-Min-Tun); This field trip has been very interesting. The facilities and accommodations are satisfactory. We get much practical knowledge in collecting plankton samples. It has been exciting and interesting to see living samples. It would be better if the microscopes with photo equipment had been of higher quality. Because of this research project in Myanmar Sea, we have had a chance to know water productivity from plankton samples of different stations. The results we have achieved are valuable for Myanmar. We would like to thank the entire crew, from steward, through chef, engineers, technicians, scientists, cruise leader, officers to captain; for their hospitality, friendly, warm welcome to local scientists, delicious foods and other needful assistance.

Finally, we would like to give an extra recognize to Mr. Espen Bagøien, for his systematic teaching and sharing the knowledge concerning with the plankton and environmental parameters. Cruise leaders comment: I’m very glad that Myanmar did assign two of their female scientist to participate in this cruise. Both of them have done an excellent job. The do both have a PhD in zooplankton and fish biology and are teachers at one of Myanmar’s three Universities. The two guys in the group are both studying for a PhD and would like to use the data collected during this cruise, in their thesis. They will bring with them samples for species identification of phytoplankton and zooplankton for species identification in their own lab

Aung Win Sein, Assistant Fisheries Officer Department of Fisheries, Myanmar.

First of all, I am very glad and pleased to participate in this cruise. And then, thanks to FAO which is supporting to conduct this Research and Survey Cruise that is essential for sustainable fisheries management of our country. After that, I’d like to say thanks to all participants who have worked as a team; united and happy during hard work and little sleep. I think, this research cruise is a historic trip not only for me but also my Department. Because of lack of such research work, we didn’t know how our marine resources have decreased. I think only one cruise is not enough for estimating our marine resources; MSY, Biomass; Nansen will have to come back. We do need and we do hope such research cruise can continue so that we can do the best management of our resources. If I’ll have a chance again, I would like to participate once more. I do hope this cruise result will make renewable management of our fisheries sectors. I wish our marine ecosystem and marine lives will be better than before…….

Han Win

I am Han Win, a junior scientist of Myanmar’s Fisheries Department. Myanmar’s coastal fishery survey with R/V DR. FRIDTJOF NANSEN has lasted for 35 days. The days have been long and hard, but R/V DR. FRIDTJOF NANSEN and her crew have served large and clean accommodation and variety of tasteful foods during the whole trip. When we relax, we get access to movies and fitness room. All this makes us happy and strong so that we can conduct our duties and survey activities and also escape from boring moments and tiredness. I also feel very safe onboard the vessel. We have had the chance to work closely with skilful scientists with knowledge of sophisticated survey equipment divides. This survey will for sure help to the development of human resources and capacity building in marine research program for local scientists. Some 30 years ago, R/V DR. FRIDTJOF NANSEN made a survey in Myanmar’s marine fishery water. Result from this survey was very useful in marine fishery management measure. I think that result of the present survey will be a part in providing guidance to the marine fishery management sector of Myanmar.

WIN KO KO, Deputy Fisheries Officer, Institute of Fisheries Technology (IFT)

Dear All Scientists and Crews; Firstly, Welcome to Myanmar all of you. My name is Win Ko Ko. My position is Deputy Fisheries Officer and also one of the members of Myanmar scientist from Department of Fisheries. I would like to appreciate all of you and your country, for your supporting and kind co-operation with our group and my country, regarding this survey period by RV Dr Fridtjof Nansen in around the Myanmar marine water. Before this survey, I had limited knowledge of research activities and marine resources species of Myanmar. Now, I have had the opportunity to study and learn about the diversity of marine life and condition of Myanmar. Now we have successfully and smoothly completed our survey. I will never forget you and your country regarding your lovely and honest treating and supporting for our group. I would like to talk again to you “well come to Myanmar” and Thank you for all.

Zayar Min

I’m Zayar Min , from Delta region, Myanmar. Actually, this survey trip is the first time for me in Myanmar marine water, learning about species biodiversity distribution, knowledge of the ocean science and etc…. We have to know what the recent status of marine fishery condition is and how to manage marine resources after survey. During this trip, we have had a good time due to the excellent hospitality of Dr. Fridtjof Nansen. I’ll keep all the memorial images from the trip along with me the rest of my life. I’m really appreciating your kindness. Thank a lot for all.



Wai Yan Tin

I’m Wai Yan Tin OO, Captain from Myanmar Navy. I am very glad that I was assigned to the Bay of Bengal large marine ecosystem project. Though I have a few years experienced at sea through my operation duty, this is the first time that I attend in fisheries research. I have got many new experience and learned new things such as Oceanography, data processing, fishing and fishing gear. I would very much like to learn more and will now look for opportunities for further studies within these topics. I believe that this research will be really helpful to our costal marine eco-system, especially to reserved and endangered species. It might also be helpful to clean our polluted area. We can exchange culture with Norwegians as well and I really have fun with them. We in Myanmar welcome Dr Fridtjof Nansen’s for its next trip. I really enjoy this trip and thank you for everyone.