Transboundary Fisheries Teams Narrow Down Fish Species for Joint Management

Pakse, Lao PDR, 5th May 2016

Pakse, Lao PDR, 5 May 2016 – Vulnerable migratory whitefish such as Probarbus jullenii would be the target species for the transboundary fisheries management project along the Mekong and Sekong Rivers Basins, according to the project teams from Cambodia and Lao PDR.

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Fisheries specialists from the two member countries of the Mekong River Commission met in Pakse for two days from 4 May to discuss significant transboundary fisheries issues and to prepare for the development of a joint fisheries management plan to address those issues. Through the two-day discussions, the two countries have agreed on what would constitute transboundary fisheries management issues and narrowed down what species might be targeted as a priority to manage jointly in the future.

The Mekong – Sekong Transboundary Fisheries Management Project is one of the five bilateral transboundary projects funded by the World Bank and technically supported by the MRC Secretariat. Lao PDR and Cambodia have selected four bordering provinces along the two rivers to identify transboundary issues, design a coordination mechanism to manage common resources and formulate a joint management plan to address those issues.

During the discussions, the two teams identified unsustainable fishing practices, lack of enforcement of fisheries regulations, and habitat degradation due to excessive land use and large-scale development are some of key issues those four provinces face and which need to be addressed jointly. The teams also found that limited fisheries data and human resources and lack of information sharing mechanism between the two countries are main constraints to address those issues, and recommended to strengthen the monitoring of fish and fisheries products, set up a transboundary fisheries management body, and develop a joint management plan.

In order to develop a joint management plan, the two teams further discussed target species to monitor and manage and narrowed down to eight whitefish species which are vulnerable to extinction, migrate to both the rivers and remain commercially important to the four provinces. The two sides will further discuss to finalise the target species to manage and draft a comprehensive report on joint transboundary issues by mid-2016.

The project is expected to produce a final joint management plan by the end of the project cycle in early 2018.

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