Vientiane, 25th August 2016 — Today the Department of Livestock and Fisheries (DLF) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF-Laos) met in Vientiane to officially launch a new community fisheries project in Bolikhamxay and Khammouan provinces.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the DLF and WWF-Laos was signed at the Sapnakhone Hotel by Mr. Bounthong Saphakdy, Deputy Director General of the DLF, and Mr. Somphone Bouasavanh, Country Director of WWF-Laos, in the presence of representatives from Bolikhamxay and Khammouan provinces.
The project will aim to improve transboundary freshwater natural resources management via the creation of fish conservation zones (FCZ), fisheries management committees and village patrolling units in 15 villages. It will run in parallel with a similar project in Thailand, in an effort to jointly improve the management of the Mekong River’s rich natural resources. The project will also support local livelihoods and the development of alternative sources of income to reduce pressure on freshwater natural resources. In addition, the project will seek to raise awareness of communities to better understand the benefits of fish conservation and fisheries management.
The 3-year USD 402,000 project is funded by WWF Switzerland and receives technical support from the WWF Greater Mekong Programme Office. To further demonstrate the benefits of fish conservation zones, the DLF and WWF will use systematic monitoring and evaluation processes that will provide scientific grounds for the replication of the community fisheries model in other parts of Laos as well as the Greater Mekong region.
The benefits of setting up fisheries co-management structures, and in particular fish conservation zones, are tremendous for both people and the environment. FCZs indeed contribute to the overall improvement of people’s livelihoods by increasing fish stocks and thus the rivers’ fish productivity. FCZs also contribute to freshwater conservation as fish species benefit from safe havens to spawn, feed and shelter.
This new project is the latest in a long-lasting cooperation between the DLF and WWF Laos that started in 2004. At the time, the project also supported villages the southern provinces of Sekong and Attapeu as well as Bokeo province in the north of Laos. Since then, the DLF and WWF have supported the creation of 258 fish conservation zones in seven provinces. The benefits of setting up fisheries co-management structures are tremendous to all local people as 187.712 people, 34.043 household, 31.619 families and the environment.