Vientiane, Lao PDR, 28th Aug 2017
In an effort to develop a joint fisheries management plan for the Mekong and Sekong river basins along the border, fishermen in Cambodia and Lao PDR have begun monitoring migratory fish species in both rivers to develop a fisheries database.
Fisheries experts from the two countries reported in late August in Pakse that six fishers each from Cambodia and Lao PDR had been collecting data on the five species in strategic locations along the borders. The five species are those vulnerable to development and overfishing as well as important for riverine communities for their food security and income generation.
Under the monitoring scheme, the designated fishermen caught fish with special gillnets, identified fish species using a fish catalogue, measured fish weight and length, and recorded relevant information on logbooks. These fisheries data were to be shared across the border, analysed together and used for the development of a joint fisheries management plan, according to the experts.
The monitoring is part of the Mekong – Sekong Fisheries Management Project between the two countries under the Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management Project, which promotes regional and bilateral water cooperation through cross-border dialogue. Like four other bilateral projects in the Lower Mekong Basin, the fisheries project aims to address trans-national issues such as exploitative fishing practices and impacts of hydro-development and climate change, and facilitate bilateral multi-sectoral planning and management of water resources.
During a joint workshop of the fisheries project in Pakse, the fisheries experts discussed challenges they faced in the monitoring, including fishers’ lack of understanding in monitoring methods and physical difficulties to set gillnets and access to sampling sites. They also discussed critical issues on how to standardise databases for data entry and analysis by the two countries.
“We had good discussions on the fisheries data collection and sharing. It is the first step for our transboundary collaboration on fisheries management, which will eventually develop a joint fisheries management plan with a management body proposal,” said Watt Botkosal, Deputy Secretary General of the Cambodian National Mekong Committee, at the end of the workshop. “This is very important for us because transboundary collaboration will help improve the livelihoods of our people.”
The fisheries project began in July 2014 with technical support from the Mekong River Commission. The transboundary fisheries team is expected to write up a joint fisheries monitoring report and develop a joint management plan early next year.
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