(Vientiane Times News) The Lao government must continue to create ‘Fish Conservation Zones' which are areas that aim to build the capacity of local communities in overseeing the sustainable management of their aquatic resources, officials say.
Fish Conservation Zones or FCZs are areas that are closed to fishing and can be used to protect important habitats, for instance, allowing some fish populations to rebound from being overfished.
These zones also aim to protect important spawning areas for endangered fish species and manage the fisheries like increasing the catch of a non-protected species when available and thereby improving livelihoods for local communities, an official confirmed.
The anonymous official from the Livestock and Fishery Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry told Vientiane Times by telephone yesterday that in a country where fish are so important to rural livelihoods; there is a clear need to ensure the involvement of local communities and that these zones can address both the goals of protecting biodiversity and increasing food security in the region.
In the FCZs, locals are surveyed regularly to ensure their wishes and viewpoints for natural resource conservation are taken into account.
In 2004 there were only 234 FCZs in local communities in the target provinces of Vientiane, Borikhamxay, Khammuan, Savannakhet, Saravan, Xekong, Attapeu, and Champassak but each year the number of FCZs has been increasing in many of the provinces in the country.
There are about 1000 zones nationwide currently including those in the “Conserving Biodiversity and Sustaining Livelihoods along the Mekong River in Luang Prabang, Xayaboury, and Vientiane Provinces” project, he said
He also added that in the past several years they have also seen a rapid decline in fish stocks throughout the country with overfishing, especially through the use of explosives and electrofishing, considered to be the major cause.
Throughout the process of creating FCZs local people in the community are working to ensure that any possible negative impacts are addressed and mitigated.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, they had cooperated with other organizations including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in various project's activities, including installing signs to mark no-fishing boundaries and displaying the protected area regulations of each community.
They have also been training village management and enforcement teams on how to monitor and enforce the conservation regulations at each site, especially during the probarbus migration and spawning season from December to February.
By Vientiane Times News
23 June 2016