Phathalung, Thailand, 23 March 2017 , 27th Mar 2017
Phathalung, Thailand, 23 March 2017 – Before dawn, Yainub Ritto goes out fishing in Thailand’s largest natural lake of Songkhla. A big smile comes over her face as there are a lot of fish and shrimps trapped in her fishing gear, representing a good catch.
“I catch between 5 and 10 kg of fish and shrimps daily. It is five times more than the last eight years when I first started fishing,” beams the 43-year-old fisherwoman from Phathalung’s Ban Chong Feun village, speaking to a video crew. “This enables me to pay off my loans and support my son’s studies.”
A community-based fish conservation zone, she continues, made the increase possible for her village where 80 percent of the 260 families are small-scale fishers.
This was a scene filmed by officials and community representatives from Songkhla and Cambodia’s Tonle Sap lake, during a MRC-supported joint video exchange workshop. They shot success stories of the conservation zone, located in the middle part of the Songkhla Lake, about 920 km south of Bangkok.
The 3-kilometer-wide fish conservation zone has been jointly established and managed by people of Ban Chong Feun village since 1991. It is dedicated to the family-scale fishing community where illegal fishing gears are strictly prohibited. Fishing and non-fishing zones have been defined. To increase fish population, 15 kinds of fish and shrimp species are released into the lake four times a year.
As a result, according to the village chief Sarawut Chucheun, fish stock continues to improve and 90 percent of illegal fishing has been reduced. Fishers have benefited from better harvests, both in the number and size of fish, and, in return, contribute part of their income to support the conservation zone.
“I am very impressed with the achievements made by the conservation zone. It inspires me to do more for the benefits of my community,” said Hor Sam Ath, Deputy Chief of Rohalsoung Sde Krom Fisheries Community from Cambodia’s Tonle Sap lake, who was a member of the film crew. “I will reach out to community people and government agencies for better collaboration and management of our fish conservation area to rebuild our fisheries resources.”
The joint video exchange workshop was organized under the MRC’s Tonle Sap - Songkhla lake basins communication outreach project, from 14 to 17 March in Songkhla lake. It is a follow-up activity on the Participatory Video Exchange Initiative, launched in November 2016, to promote knowledge sharing on healthy lake governance between the two lakes.
In addition to the video clip on sustainable fisheries, the project teams also produced two other videos on the role of youth in promoting climate change adaptation measures, and women’s role in natural disaster preparedness.
While women and youth play active roles as advocates for addressing these issues in Songkhla lake, the Cambodian team said there is limited participation from these two groups in Cambodia’s Tonle Sap lake. This joint learning has motivated them to take more action.
“We will advocate to get more youth and women involved in managing our water and related resources,” said Sin Viseth, Director of Department of Exploitation and Conservation Control of Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Authority.
To promote sharing of and discussion on issues captured by the videos, a community video screening was organized in Phathalung province.
Participants said the videos helped them gain a deeper understanding of challenges facing their communities and how they are addressed. They hope to learn more about local livelihoods and development in Cambodia and Thailand.
In November last year, the sister-lake project organized the first filming workshop in Cambodia where the project teams produced four videos on lake management issues in Tonle Sap lake. The teams will translate and exchange all videos for public screening in both lakes.
Funded by the World Bank, the Tonle Sap lake and Songkhla lake basins communication outreach project is one of five bilateral projects aimed at promoting dialogue and collaboration between the lower Mekong countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam.