Fisheries Conservation expected to improve fishers’ livelihood

Through the Prime Minister's Sub-Decree 37, all commercial fishing lots around Tonle Sap Lake were abolished in favour of community fishing and fish conservation. Local fishers can now catch more fish and have access to fishing grounds that were previously off limits. Mr. Sovann Morm, Head of Community Fisheries Coalition in Beoung Chhmar Ramsar Site, bore testimony on 21 June 2013 to the fact that sustainable fisheries resources management will improve local livelihood around Tonle Sap. 

Sovann Morm, Head of Community Fisheries Coalition in Beoung Chhmar Ramsar Site Photo: IUCN Cambodia

IUCN: What have you observed after the government decided to abolish fishing lots?

Mr Sovann: We are very happy with the fisheries reforms carried out last year. Based on my observation, the income generation of fishers in our commune has increased by five times. In my experience, the situation will be much better if we protect the mother fish well, as fisheries’ resources can increase by up to 50% annually.

IUCN: What was your impression after attending the National Fisheries Conservation, co-organized
by IUCN Cambodia, FACT and Fisheries Administration in Banteay Meanchey Province in May 2013?

Mr Sovann: During that event, I met a lot of representatives of the Community Fisheries and we shared our knowledge on fishery management. We then visited the Fisheries Conservation Zone located in Pneat Pongsat; one of the most successful Community Fisheries. I was impressed to see a lot of fishes in their protected area. It encouraged me to accelerate my work in conservation. An ecosystem base in the Beoung Chhmar Ramsar Site is a major gift for us. I am sure that fisheries’ resources will quickly increase if there is a well-managed strategy and enough finance and technical support for our Community.

IUCN: How is fisheries resources management important for your community?

Mr Sovann: In my commune, 95% of the total population are fishers. We strongly depend on natural resources, notably fish. We need sustainable fisheries management so that we can improve our livelihoods and increase fisheries resources. That is the heritage for my grandchildren, great grandchildren and our next generations to come.

IUCN: What are the improvements you found after establishing the Community Fisheries in Beoung Chhmar Ramsar Site since 2007?

Mr Sovann: Right now, there are more fish in our commune and we found several species of endangered fish such as the Mekong Giant Barb and the Lapia which have disappeared since 1979. We regret that we lost some species… But our Community has informed fishers not to kill endangered fish and help them by bringing them to the deep pool instead.

IUCN: What would you suggest or recommend to the relevant stakeholders?

Mr Sovann: For our community, fishery resources are very important. I commit to protect these resources for our next generation. I would like to request all relevant NGOs to support us in purchasing necessary equipment for patrolling, especially boats. We also need improved management techniques to make our Community Fisheries operate more smoothly.  

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