Improving Rural Livelihoods and Environments in Developing Countries
Dr Joanne Millar, ILWS, Dr Lee Baumgartner, ILWS, Dr Wayne Robinson, ILWS, Dr Oudom Phonekhampeng, Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, National University of Lao and Mr Douangkham Singhanouvong, Director, Living Aquatic Resources Research Centre, Laos
This project was a sub project of the ACIAR project Development of fish passage technology to increase fisheries production on floodplains in the lower Mekong, Laos and Murray-Darling River Basins.
A baseline survey of fish harvesting and use by villagers was carried out in September 2011 using semi structured interviews with 60 households from 6 villages around the wetland. Another survey interviewed 23 women and 25 elders in November 2012 from the same villages to explore gender differences and traditional conservation practices. The village survey was repeated post fishway construction in 2015 to determine any observed differences in fish migration, species abundance, and quantity or quality of fish sold and used by villagers.
The pre-fishway study confirmed that fishing is a major livelihood activity for villages around Pak Peung wetland with a wide range of fish species harvested. People fish for at least 10 hours or more per week and up to 60 hours/week or longer during the dry season. Villagers fish at 14 locations in the wetland but mostly at five locations. Women fish closer to the villages and less often than men. The estimated total catch per day from the 14 locations and 81 households was 3,117kg. Individual catches per day varied from 0.5kg to 12kg (average 3kg) depending on fish species and sizes. Most fish are consumed by the household or given to relatives and friends but about 15 kg are sold per week (range 5kg to 28kg). Given the average price of 30,000kip per kg, the average weekly income was estimated to be approximately 450,000kip. However, there is a large variation in household fishing practices and income (range 150,000 to 840,000 kip/week).
The only change that can be potentially related to the fishway becoming partially operational in 2014 was observations of more species in the wetland. However given this was mostly voiced by people from Pak Peung village near the fishway, it indicates that fish may not have migrated into other parts of the wetland yet. In the 2014 wet season most fish were captured for monitoring purposes as they moved up the fishway. At least two more wet seasons are needed with the fishway fully operational to see if there is a significant increase in fish catches, species and subsequent socioeconomic benefits to people.
Survey results were presented at the annual project meetings in Vientiane in 2012, 2013 and 2015. A report was presented at the 2013 and 2015 meetings. A journal paper has been accepted.
Final Report Development of fish passage technology to increase fisheries production on floodplains in the lower Mekong basin (http://aciar.gov.au/files/fis-2009-041_fr2016-01.pdf) ACIAR report for the whole project with details on this subproject.
Survey results were presented at the annual project meetings in Vientiane in 2012, 2013 and 2015. A report was presented at the 2013 and 2015 meetings. A journal paper has been submitted to Food Security: the science, sociology and economics of food production and access to food.
Results assisted the Lao government to decide to invest in fish passages for environmental and community benefits.
Dr Joanne Millar
Charles Sturt University – Albury