First reflection on Local Livelihood in Boeung Chhmar Ramsar Site after the 35 Commercial Fishing Lots abolished
A situation analysis was conducted to study about the current situation of local livelihood based on Fishery Resources in Boeung Chhmar Ramsar Site (BCRS) from April to May 2013. BCRS is recognized for its high wetlands and biodiversity resources. The site is one of the most productive freshwater fisheries for local livelihoods and national revenue. Located in Peam Bang commune, Stoung district, Kampong Thom province, this area is surrounded by a dynamic river system that links to the Tonle Sap Great Lake.
Due to the unsustainable operation of the commercial fishing lots and illegal fishing in the region, in March 2012 the royal government of Cambodia affirmed the sub-degree No 32 to abolish all 37 commercial fishing lots within and around the Tonle Sap Lake. The area has been transformed into Family Fishing Zones and Fishery Conservation Zones (FCZ).
From 14 to 16 March 2013, a Situation Analysis (SA) was conducted by Dr. Sarah Milne, an independent researcher from Australia National University (ANU), with assistance from IUCN Cambodia and FACT (Fisheries Action Coalition Team). The SA looked at the current state of fisheries resources in BCRS and the livelihoods that rely upon then. Interviews were conducted with three key informant groups from all sectors of the community, such as: vulnerable families, local authorities, committee of Community Protected Area (CPA), and villagers from Balot and Ta Our Sor Toal villages. The SA found that 99% of local people depend on fishery resources, while the rest (1%) are involved in small scale businesses. After abolishing commercial fishing lots, fish populations have significantly increased; improving the catch and income of fishers.
“Rare fish have come back and I can catch bigger fish. Now, we found lot of big fish named Chhpin, up to 2kg per fish” said Mr. Phin, Balot villagers. However, some small-scale fishers are concerned about small size of the nets authorized by Fishery Law (maximum 100m), arguing that it will be prohibitive to catch size. Large scale illegal fishing in a problem in the area and in order to remain competitive, many families now use illegal fishing equipment. The SA study also found key threats such as the increase in illegal fishing activities operated by large scale commercial fishers, Illegal fishers, most notable by Vietnamese and outsiders, threaten local livelihoods as they reduce resources.
In addressing these issues, the fisheries communities have suggested solutions such as: re-consulting FCZ size among all key stakeholders and local communities, defining clear demarcation, and installing boundary concrete poles. In addition, good governance should be promoted, law enforcement and patrol should also be strengthened and participated from all stakeholders.
Through the EU-NSA (Non State Actor)-funded project: Strengthening Capacity of Fishing Communities in the Tonle Sap to Manage their Natural Resources Sustainably, IUCN and its partner FACT will play a key role in building partnerships between the CPA in BCRS Site and local authorities; strengthening the capacity of the fishing community to manage local resources; providing technical support to local community to set clear conservation zone boundaries, initiating a community committee and management plan; and mainstreaming key activities of the management plan into the commune investment plan.
By: SORN Pheakdey
For more information, please contact:
Mr. KONG Kimsreng, Senior Programme Officer, IUCN Cambodia,
Mr. SORN Pheakdey, Water and Wetland Coordinator, IUCN Cambodia,
Ms. SAY Chenda, Communication Officer, IUCN Cambodia