Siem Reap, Cambodia, 22 Nov 2017
Siem Reap, Cambodia, 20 November 2017 – Targeting a 10-percent increase in fish abundance in the Mekong and Sekong Rivers by 2021, fisheries experts from Cambodia and Lao PDR shared today the progress in fish monitoring activities that set a baseline, and continued discussions on the formation of a joint fisheries management plan to reach that goal.
In the Mekong – Sekong river basins along the two countries’ border provinces, fish stock is declining year by year due to multiple pressures including exploitative fishing practices, increasing hydro-development and unavoidable climate change. In order to reverse the declining trend, the two countries have been collaborating through a bilateral project to set up a mechanism to jointly manage and preserve fisheries resources along the border to improve livelihoods and regional food security.
At a meeting held in Siem Reap, fisheries experts from the Mekong – Sekong transboundary fisheries management project reported on national activities from the joint fisheries monitoring programme, in which the catch rates, size and type of fish and other vital characteristics of five migratory white fish species are measured and recorded for assessment and analysis. For the last 6-12 months, 12 fishermen from each country who received training logged the vital information of fish resources in the provinces of Champassak and Attapeu in Lao PDR and Stung Treng and Kratie in Cambodia.
The monitoring results are currently being analysed and, once completed, will become a baseline for the long-term joint fisheries management plan under development. The plan is aimed at increasing fish catch rates by 10 percent within four years, by reducing illegal fishing activities in the transboundary conservation pool by 50 percent and eliminating the use of a traditional but illegal fishing gear called Lee Trap in the Khone Falls by 80 percent.
During the meeting, the experts exchanged ideas on the roles and responsibilities of a joint fisheries management body they are aiming to establish, and discussed details of a management plan to reduce illegal fishing activities and illegal gear use. Through discussions, they became increasingly aware that the management body needs to continue the joint monitoring programme to assess the ever-changing situation, set up measures to control illegal fishing activities, share data and activity records, and evaluate the implementation of management activities for improvement.
“We have discussed very important issues today, informing the progress of a fisheries monitoring programme, and the development of a technical coordination group and a fisheries management action plan,” said Te Navuth, Secretary-General of the Cambodian National Mekong Committee, who co-chaired the meeting. “It’s very important for Mekong cooperation because fisheries resources are common resources for not only Cambodia and Lao PDR but also Thailand and Viet Nam. What the project is aiming for is in line with the 1995 Mekong Agreement, and best practices coming out of this project would eventually support the livelihoods of local people in the region.”
To continue the development of the joint management plan, the experts agreed to meet again in February 2018.
The fisheries management project is part of the five bilateral projects under the Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management Project of the Mekong River Commission, which promotes coordinated planning and management of water resources for sustainable development of the Lower Mekong Basin. Funded by the World Bank, the bilateral projects are slated for completion in 2018.
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