On December 16, 2019, in Siem Reap, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Fisheries Administration (FiA) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries signed an MOU to strengthen collaboration on fisheries management and livelihoods. IUCN was represented by Jake Brunner, Head of Indo-Burma Group, and the FiA by its Director General, H.E. Eng Cheasan.
At the signing ceremony, Jake Brunner summarized IUCN’s history of cooperation with FiA on mangrove restoration, sea grass bed surveys, dolphin surveys, establishment of the Kep Marine Fisheries Management Area (MFMA) in 2018, and support for the establishment of an additional MFMA in Kampot, as well as cooperation on community fisheries in the Tonle Sap, the world’s most productive freshwater fisheries, especially the use of fish conservation areas linked to sustainable financing. He observed that this MOU follows the signing of MOUs with Ministry of Environment in 2017 and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in 2017, which recognized IUCN as an International Organization.
H.E. Eng Cheasan thanked IUCN for its cooperation with FiA. He stressed the vital role of the fisheries sector in the national economy and food and nutritional security. He also recognized the challenges posed by illegal fishing, rapid coastal development, climate change, and hydropower. He observed that there is a long-term trend in declining fish sizes.
To address these threats, FiA needs to expand cooperation with IUCN and other development partners. For example, in 2020, the Commune Investment Funds will more than double to at least $25,000 per commune per year. The FiA could play a key role in helping community fisheries committees to access some of this funding to invest in fisheries conservation and other forms of “green” or ecosystem-based infrastructure. Such policy support could complement that technical and financial assistance that IUCN, CI, WWF, FACT, CEPA, and many other organizations are already providing to these committees.