IUCN Lao PDR recently put together a team of researchers from Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Thailand to conduct a study on employment generation of the fish trade along one of the three major transboundary routes in the region, between Stung Treng, Cambodia; Champassak, Lao PDR; and Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand.
Lead researcher Hap Navy of the Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute in Cambodia (IFReDI) presented the results of the study at the Mekong Environmental Symposium held on 5-7 March 2013, in Ho Chi Minh City. (Presentation can be downloaded here.)
The research team consisted of Hap Navy, Douangkham Singhanouvong and Khampheng Homsombath of the Living Aquatic Resources Research Center (LARReC) in Lao PDR, and Chainarong Sretthachau of Mahasarakham University in Thailand. IUCN Lao PDR coordinated the study, which was funded by the Sustainable Mekong Research Network (SUMERNET), and the Stockholm Environmental Institute provided expertise and logistical support.
Presenting at the Mekong Environmental Symposium offered an excellent opportunity to share the results of the project with a wider audience, gain the attention of the media and policy makers, and learn about other related research taking place in the region.
In addition to producing a book chapter on the research results, the research team compiled recommendations calling attention of local and national level policy makers in all three countries to the importance of this trade, and offering concrete ways to preserve the health of fish populations. The study shows that fishery resources in the study area, and the livelihoods of the people who depend on them, could be maintained through the following key measures:
- Stronger enforcement of country-level fishery laws. The fisheries legislation passed by the governments of Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Thailand individually to regulate and police the trade and transportation of fish is positive but incomplete, and has not been strongly enforced.
- Greater protection, and expansion, of existing fish conservation zones
- Increased transboundary communication and cooperation on trade regulation to address international threats effectively
By disseminating research results to policy makers and the public, IUCN Lao PDR hopes to influence decision makers to recognize the fish trade’s important contributions to employment and livelihoods.
A chapter covering this research project in detail will be published later this year.