Cambodia’s Tonle Sap is arguably the world’s most important freshwater wetland. Designated a UNESCO Biosphere reserve in 1997 and established by Royal Decree as the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve in 2001, this huge and dynamic wetland directly supports the livelihoods of more than 1.2 million people. It also plays a vital role in national food security.
Over the pass hundred years, Government-authorized fishing lots were owned and operated for commercial purposes. Families were excluded from these areas and forced to fish in marginal areas some distance from their homes.
In August 2011, Prime Minister Hun Sen suspended 35 privately owned fishing lots in the Tonle Sap. Then, in March 2012, he signed Sub-Decree No.37 entitled “Abolishing the Fishing Lots around Tonle Sap Lake in order for Family Fishing and Fishery Conservation”. While this is potentially a boon for local fishers, now given unrestricted access to previously off-limits fishing grounds, there is a risk that these changes will lead to an intensification of unsustainable fishing practices that could move the lake toward a “Tragedy of the Commons” outcome.
Goal and outcome:
- Capacity of Community Fisheries (CFs) to negotiate, demarcate, and manage Fishery Conservation Zone (FCZs) is strengthened.
- Capacity of CFs to network with other communities managing FCZs is enhanced.
- Value of FCZs demonstrated and management costs are included in commune budgets.