Local perceptions of changes in the use and management of floodplain fisheries commons: The case of Pak Peung wetland in Lao PDR

Joanne Millar, Wayne Robinson, L.J. Baumgartner, Khampheng Homsombath, Malavanh Chittavong, Thonglom Phommavong, Douangkham Singhanouvong

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Local perceptions of floodplain fisheries use and management can play an important role in designing adaptive strategies to improve fisheries co-management. This paper explores perceptions of local people on changes in the use and management of floodplain fisheries, using a case study of Pak Peung wetland commons in Lao PDR. The wetland is seasonally inundated from the Mekong River; however, fish migration has been impacted by irrigation development and increasing fishing pressure. Local fishing practices, knowledge and views were captured to inform co-management strategies, including the first fishway designed for Mekong River fish species. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in 2011 with 81 households from six villages around the wetland. The survey was repeated in 2015 to ascertain any changes in practices and observations of fish migrating up the fishway. Most respondents spent between 10 and 25 h per week fishing and caught from 0.5 to 12 kg per day (average 3 kg), highlighting the part-time and opportunistic nature of seasonal floodplain fishing. Complementary gender roles in exploiting the resource were evident with women catching a wider range of species than men and fishing closer to villages. Respondents said fisheries had declined due to habitat destruction, irrigation development, population increase and illegal fishing methods. Most people wanted stronger regulation and patrolling of fish conservation zones. Several households reported catching fish species not seen in the wetland for many years post-fishway including two endangered species and one vulnerable species. Greater attention to regular enforcement of fisheries rules and gendered perspectives would assist local communities in protecting their floodplains for future generations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1835-1852
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment, Development and Sustainability: a multidisciplinary approach to the theory and practice of sustainable development
Issue number4
Early online date12 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

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