IUCN - Massive green mussel die-offs in Koh Kang

Massive green mussel die-offs in Koh Kang

30 November 2011 | Article

 The widespread mortality of green mussels in Koh Kang area worries farmers as they observe the changes in seasons.

Koh Kang is a small alluvial island located in the southeast section of the Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary, Koh Kong Province, Cambodia. Currently, 51 families live in this rich mangrove area, which is surrounding by saltwater waterways. Aquaculture activities related with green mussel (Perna viridis) farming in Koh Kang has emerged as an exceptional and sustainable alternative for income security among local households after the collapse of shrimp farming. Almost 50% of local fishermen annual income comes from green mussel farming.

This year fishermen have noticed a dramatic decrease in green mussels harvesting compare with previous years. Ven Sorn, the green mussel farmer in Koh Kang, points out “I only know that last year we had problems during the rainy season from June to August, but this year, green mussels started to die in November, when there is no rain. I do not know the main causes and I am very confused”.

Although there is nocertain explanation for this fall in production, some fishermen reported that monsoon rains this year have been longer than normal, accompanied with higher temperatures. Thus, local fishermen have developed innovative ways to cope with climate variability, expressed in seasonal changes in temperature and rainfall.

For instance, fishermen have realized that by growing green mussel in deeper areas, the cultivars can be protected from high temperatures and freshwater intrusion. Some local producer have been trying to find places with 10-15 meters depth to raise green mussels, in order to reduce risk associated with any environmental variability.

Green mussel farmers in Kog Kang are calling for experts and authorities contributions, specifically to assist them in defining current and future impacts of climate change in the local aquiculture sector. They will work together in the elaboration of new strategies to reduce climate vulnerability and to enhance the resilience of the green mussel farming.

IUCN team in Cambodia is currently planning to conduct a vulnerability and capacity assessment with local communities in the Peam Krasop area. This is a part of BCR project which aims to enhance adaptaive capacity of people and ecosystem to cope with projected climate change and reducing associated risks, by an anticipative way.

For more information, contact kong.sun@iucn.org