A project devised by the Oikos Institute is improving the economic conditions of the inhabitants of the Myeik Archipelago and preserving the local fishing industry.
In order to safeguard the community, in 2012 the Oikos Institute and the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (Maeci) decided to implement a project to improve the economic welfare of the local population and save the archipelago's ecosystem.
The project encourages the active participation of both the community and the local authorities in order to ensure that the plan is properly managed. The first part of the initiative is a training programme involving most of the population. In particular, it offers literacy courses (for the Moken minority) and promotes studies with a view to launching ecotourism initiatives. The second part of the project relies on help from the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) of Myanmar, which makes it possible to identify the area's main natural resources and establish strategies to stop their indiscriminate and illegal exploitation. The project is also aimed at preserving the archipelago's mangroves, which are rampantly felled to produce charcoal for domestic use.
The project has led to the definition of fishing boundaries and restrictions on fishing times and techniques, so that only small-scale fishing is permitted. The overall aim is to prevent falling catches and resulting food insecurity for inhabitants. Two years after the project was launched, an ecotourism centre was opened at the marine park's office, to train up members of the local community as tour guides for nature tours around the archipelago. In addition, the main village has been equipped with a water supply system.