Fishing communities in the Tonle Sap

A fisherman casts his net in a locally regulated Community Fishery (CFi) in Boeung Chhmar along the Tonle Sap Lake

Project title: Strengthening capacity of fishing communities in the Tonle Sap to manage their natural resources sustainably

Location:  Siem Reap Province, Kampong Thom Province and Kampong Chhnang Province, Cambodia

Duration: 2013 – 2016

Project background: Tonle Sap, a World Heritage site, is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and is listed as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Biosphere Reserve. It is one of the world’s most productive inland fishing waters. The surrounding forests and floodplains also play an important role in sustaining this ecological system which supports the livelihoods of over 1.2 million people.

Unfortunately, over the last few decades the Tonle Sap has come under threat from illegal fishing practices, medium and large-scale commercial fishing, water pollution, hydropower dams and deforestation which are seriously impacting the environment and destroying fish habitat. 

To protect these fish habitats, IUCN initiated a project which is aligned to the Community Fisheries Sub-Decree which the Royal Government of Cambodia adopted in 2003. The project is designed to improve the capacity of local communities to sustainably manage the fishery resources in their areas.

Objectives of the project: The project seeks to strengthen the capacity of Community Fisheries (CF) in the Tonle Sap by integrating CF-managed Fish Conservation Areas (FCAs) into CF management plans and budgets.

Expected Outputs:

  • Capacity of CFs to negotiate, demarcate and manage Fishery Conservation Zones (FCZs) is strengthened
  • Capacity of CFs to network with other communities managing FCZs is enhanced
  • Value of FCZs demonstrated and management costs are covered with sustainable financing options
  • Support to ensure effective project implementation, outreach, networking and communications are delivered

Donors:  European Union (EU); Mekong Water Dialogues (MWD); Embassy of Finland in Bangkok; and Building River Dialogue and Governance (BRIDGE)

Partners: Fisheries Action Coaliation Team (FACT); and Fisheries Communities

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