In early June, IUCN and FACT organized a regular monthly meeting with the community fisheries (CFi) committee and commune council in Kampong Phluk, 25 km from Siem Reap, one of three sites where the EU-funded project to strengthen management of fish conservation areas (FCAs) is intervening in the Tonle Sap.
At the meeting, we discussed project progress. This includes the purchase of a second patrol boat for FCA, the installation of 150 poles in the FCA as fish attraction devices to support fish recruitment (and deter illegal fishing), monthly and quarterly M&E data collection, the CFi by-laws (which are 70% complete), and the CFi management plan (which is 60% done).
We also discussed sources of financing to support CFI committee operations in general and FCA patrolling in particular. These include CFi membership fees, contributions from tourism revenue, a charity box, and possibly financing from the commune development fund.
Neoung Ny, who is both the commune and CFi committee chief, agreed to allocate 10% of the tourist boat revenue, which amounted to US$24,000 in 2015, to the CFi. US$2,400/year or US$200/month would pay for the fuel costs for the FCA patrolling.
He made this commitment because he has seen at first hand the effect of the FCA in increasing fish stocks and fish catch, which has translated into increased incomes, improved food security and general well being, and reduced debt. As the commune leader, he vowed to make Kampong Phluk the outstanding CFi in the Tonle Sap.
However, while there have been significant achievements, challenges remain, including the use of 2-engine speed boats for illegal fishing, limited time and capacity of CFi committee members, and the need for more active participation from the broader community.