Community Fisheries (Comfish) | WWF

Community Fisheries (Comfish)

Securing people’s livelihoods while reducing pressure on natural aquatic resources is the central objective of the joint WWF-Oxfam Novib Community Fisheries project, also known as COMFISH.
Operating in the three central provinces of Laos – Bolikhamxay, Khammouane and Savannakhet – Community Fisheries is based right in the heart of the community. Seeking to strengthen local authorities’ and villagers’ ability to sustainably manage their freshwater resources, the project has the potential to improve the lives of up to 72,000 people, including 30,000 women, in 80 villages.
To do this, WWF-Laos and Oxfam Novib are working to establish freshwater protected areas, known as Fish Conservation Zones (FCZs), and carry out research and monitoring of biodiversity within them.
While the establishment of FCZs contributes to the replenishing of natural fish stocks, it’s also necessary to reduce their daily harvesting. One way of doing this is to develop opportunities to generate food and income outside of fishing. This includes the development of small hatcheries, technical agricultural training, and promotion of practical activities such as rice-fish culture, a novel way of using paddy fields to seasonally harvest fish.
To improve villagers’ understanding of freshwater conservation and fisheries management, posters and booklets are produced to develop awareness at village level.
So too women are seen as central to the success of Community Fisheries. A significant portion of the work goes towards ensuring equitable participation and decision-making, while there is a strong focus on supporting their livelihoods.

Inclusive Decision-Making

	© WWF-Laos
Community Fisheries seeks gender balance and equal participation of both men and women in its activities. To that end, during the planning, decision-making and implementation process of the project, women and their families are encouraged to take part.

Fish Conservation Zones

FCZs are legally defined freshwater protected areas that help conserve aquatic biodiversity. Fishing is prohibited in FCZs and they are community-managed with the purpose of restoring fish stocks. Laos has approximately 112 FCZs in 33 rivers.
	© Noy Promsouvanh
Fish in Don Xay Village FCZ fed by tourists
© Noy Promsouvanh