Fish conservation zone established in Lao PDR

Posted on 30 May 2004
Fish are an important source of protein to the 60 million people living in the Mekong River Basin.
© WWF / Elizabeth Kemf
Vientianne, Lao PDR - The first fish conservation zone on Xe Bang Hieng River, a major tributary of the Mekong River in Lao PDR, has been officially recognized by villagers and district authorities. 
In a ceremony in the village of Khanthanyat, regulations governing the co-management of the Veun Munh deep pool were signed by representatives of five villages in the area as well as Songkhon District officials. These regulations establish a 2km stretch of the Xe Bang Hieng as a fish conservation zone in which fishing is prohibited year round.

The largest and longest river in South-East Asia, the Mekong supports the second-most diverse river fauna, in particular fish species, in the world after the Amazon. Sixty million people in the Mekong River Basin depend on fish and other freshwater species for most of the protein in their diets. However, the fisheries are threatened by destructive fishing methods, dams, poor management, and destruction of aquatic and interconnected terrestrial habitats. 
The conservation zone on Xe Bang Hieng River will help protect aquatic biodiversity while increasing the participation of local communities in the management of the fisheries. The conservation zone covers a variety of habitat, including deep pools and rapids, ensuring that a wide range of fish species is protected. 
Co-management plans for important aquatic habitat along the Xe Bang Hieng River have been developed as part of a WWF-Indochina project, Community Based Indicators for Sustainable Fisheries Management, funded by SARCS, the ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (ARCBC), and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

The project encourages communities to use resources sustainably by increasing the capacity of both community residents and government officials to apply indicators of sustainability to manage resources. The project also promotes national and regional discussions about improving the management of freshwater resources. 
The new co-management plan is for one of the largest fish conservation zones in the country, and serves as a good model of community participation in fisheries management for others in the region to follow. Fish conservation zones contribute to the total area of protected aquatic habitat along the Mekong and its tributaries, thereby assisting WWF and its partners in achieving conservation objectives for the sustainable use of the aquatic resources of the Mekong River Basin. 

For further information:
Roger Mollot
Freshwater Officer, WWF-Indochina
Fish are an important source of protein to the 60 million people living in the Mekong River Basin.
© WWF / Elizabeth Kemf Enlarge