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5.4 Community Forestry and Reforestation


In 1985 the Department of Forestry started community forestry activities achieving the replanting of 2100 hectares between 1986 and 1990. In 1992 the Mennonite Central Committee, a Canadian based NGO, began working with the Department of Reforestation, Department of Forestry, in an attempt to find a more successful model of community forestry. In Tramkok District, Takeo province, one of the most heavily deforested provinces of the South East,13 500 hectares of degraded forest (Prey Ler) has been allocated as a pilot case for joint resource management involving the government and villagers. Twelve villages surrounding Prey Ler have each formed Village Development Committees which have then been given ownership rights, with long term tenure rights for up to sixty years, to sections of the forest in return for replanting and restoring the natural forest using agroforestry techniques. This decentralised

Figure 2: Forest Concessions and Protected Areas



Numbers on the protected areas relate to the protected areas listed above in Table 4.

model of community based resource management is the first of its kind in Cambodia and can be used as a model for more participatory, community based management approaches, with a greater degree of decision making power and empowerment at the local level. The Department of Forestry hopes to replant 7500 hectares in Cambodia as a whole between 1996 and 2000.

5.5 Fisheries


The Mekong River through its hydrological cycle, particularly its role in regulating fish migration and the recession of flood waters, creates the vast freshwater capture fisheries of Cambodia. The Fisheries sector has enormous potential with more than 200 species of fish inhabiting the inland waters of Cambodia. Most important in terms of production and value are the inland capture fisheries based on Tonle Sap lake (60% of country’s inland fisheries) and Mekong Bassac delta (the remaining 40%) (see Table 5).

Since the 1960’s when the average total fish yield was 170,000 tonnes: 120,000 tonnes from inland capture fishery, 45, 000 tonnes from marine and 5,800 tonnes from freshwater aquaculture (FAO 1991), fisheries have suffered a serious decline, particularly in the 1970’s due to the war. During the 1980’s however, priority was given to rehabilitating fisheries and the commercial catch rose to 55-60% of 1970 production level and stabilized there. The average catch in the 1980’s was 70,000 tonnes (Department of Fisheries), although in Departmental statistics subsistence farmers yields are not recorded at all. In 1995 inland capture fisheries reached 100,000 tonnes, which includes an estimated 34,000 tonnes produced by small scale household fishing for subsistence, representing 70% of the pre-war levels.14 It is not possible to compare fisheries data between decades or provinces as different methods of sampling have been used. There is no information on species or type of fish being caught. All these factors contribute to the lack of good hard baseline information.

There is also no verifiable information that exists on the impact flooded forest loss has on fish populations but is believed to be highly significant as it is the inundated forest of the Tonle Sap which serve as spawning and nursery grounds for the bulk of the fish that repopulate the waters of the basin. Deforestation of the flooded forest surrounding the Lake, and associated declining depths of the Lake greatly impact on fisheries, although no integrated studies such as between forestry and fisheries and the socio-economic and distributional implications exist.

Benefits from fisheries though are far greater than these figures suggest. Ahmed and Thana (1995) conclude the wide range of products and benefits reaped by the living aquatic commons are considered to be the single largest ecological subsidy in Cambodia. Reductions of these benefits have much greater implications for equity and social justice which is not often measured by socio-economic cost benefit analysis.




Table 5: Cambodia’s Commercial Fish Production (tons) by Major Fishery, 1982 - 1992.


Year

Total

Inland

Marine

Aquaculture

1982

68,715

65,700

3,015

n/a

Average


(1990 - 1992)

113,450

69,567

36,666

7,217

15Percent

100

61

32

6

Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Fisheries, Phnom Penh (1992), quoted in Ministry of the Environment / UNDP (1994) “State of the Environment Report.” Phnom Penh.

5.5.1 Current Fisheries Policy


In 1987 The Department of Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture established Fisheries Laws in an attempt to control and improve the development of fisheries. The law uses control and enforcement as management tools. Fishing is organised at three levels (family subsistence, middle scale artisinal fishing and large scale industrial fishing). The law prescribes a closed season (June to September) and an open season (October to May), with only subsistence fishing being allowed year round. Commercial fishing is carried out in more than 300 fishing “holdings” which are auctioned and then leased to fisheries groups for periods of two years at a time. The RGC collects approximately US $2 million in lease and licence fees. It is in the interest of the lease holders to under estimate their yields, as the cost of the lease depends on their catches, further reducing the reliability of fisheries statistics.

Despite improvements in fishery regulations catches are rising and some species, particularly the larger and less fertile are becoming scarce (for example: the indigenous giant catfish, Pangasianodon gigas and the large carp Catlacarpio siamensis). There is a trend toward the catching of larger fish, which will only be enhanced by the removal of flooded forest. Fisheries populations will have greater numbers of smaller fish making the Tonle Sap fishery less productive.

The Department of Fisheries, rather than functioning with the aim of addressing fisheries problems in Cambodia, operates more as a private business, selling off community resources as industrial leases. Fisheries policy is highly convoluted and demonstrates no commitment to the wellbeing of fishing communities. Despite the presence of communal fisheries for the poor in the 1960’s, this system has not been replicated in the 1990’s.

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