ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Translating fish passage research outcomes into policy and legislation across South East Asia (2020-2023)


ACIAR, $2,867,857

Investigators/ Researchers

Professor Lee Baumgartner, Dr Wayne Robinson, Dr Nathan Ning, Dr John Conallin, Dr Jen Bond, Dr Nick Pawsey.

Research Theme

Sustainable Development (International)


The recent increase in water development projects throughout South East Asia threatens the long-term sustainability of productive inland capture fisheries. Capture fisheries are important as they are often the main source of protein and cash income for river communities, often the most vulnerable to climate change and nutrient deprivation.

This project follows on from two other ACIAR projects, the Fish passage project and the Development of fish passage technology to increase fisheries production on floodplains in the lower Mekong Basin project which demonstrated the benefits of fish passage within irrigated landscapes. A major learning from these projects was that research, policy, governance and institutional capacity all play key roles in wide-scale application, and will act as an implementation blocks within countries if they are not adequately considered and incorporated.

The project aims to:

  • Understand the motivations of donors and irrigation agencies for choosing whether or not to include fish passage within development projects
  • Define institutional capacity needs to enable design and implementation of future fish passage programs
  • Fill critical knowledge gaps needed to demonstrate proof of concept to donor agencies
  • Understand and define policy needs of the partner countries and donors

The project is being implemented in three South East Asian countries - Laos, Myanmar, and Indonesia - where researchers have already developed strong working relationships with in-country project partners in:

  • Laos: National University of Laos, Department of Irrigation, Department of Livestock and Fisheries
  • Myanmar: Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI) - Department of Fisheries, Irrigation and Water Utilities Management Department
  • Indonesia: Southeast Asia Fisheries Development Centre, Inland Fisheries Resources Development and Management Department, Department of Public Works


  • A two day Motivation and Ability (MOTA) framework development workshop was held at CSU's  Albury-Wodonga campus, 2020
  • A three-part webinar series, Motivation and Ability (MOTA) Framework: Decision Support for Strategic Planning and Implementation, organised by IHE Delft, has been published on its web site. For Webinar 1 (October 21, 2020) Dr John Conallin gave a talk (on behalf of Professor Lee Baumgartner) on “Integrating inland fisheries into irrigated landscapes to meet development goals: Aspirations for MOTA as tool for better implementation of our programs”; and another on “MOTA the front end. The need for a strategic context analysis and understanding your situation before project implementation”.


Expected outcomes from this project are:

  • that the robust research conducted will provide a platform for informed, evidence-based decision making (donors, government agencies) across SE Asia on fish passage construction programs
  • the development of a targeted capacity building program geared towards addressing long-term institutional needs in the field of fish passage
  • ensuring that research has guided the development of fish passage policy and legislation in Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia


Professor Lee Baumgartner
Albury-Wodonga Campus

November 2020