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Fish conservation zones as tools for fisheries management and conservation in lao pdr

Fish Conservation Zones (FCZs), or areas that limit or prohibit fishing, have gained widespread popularity as fisheries management and conservation tools in marine and freshwater ecosystems around the world. By protecting critical habitats and allowing fish populations to increase in abundance, FCZs can serve dual purposes of protecting fish biodiversity and enhancing food security and livelihoods for local communities. Rapid development in the Mekong Basin has the potential to impact fish habitat and abundance, and effective fish conservation and management tools are urgently needed. Many organizations have engaged in establishing FCZs in the Mekong Basin, and FCZs number in the hundreds in Lao PDR alone. FISHBIO is working to establish FCZs in several villages on the mainstem Mekong River in northern Lao PDR, and has seen substantial local support for the concept. While FCZs are compelling in principle, the most important consideration is whether they are successful in practice. Biophysical, socio-economic and governance monitoring is greatly needed to address whether FCZs are effective tools for meeting their intended objectives. Both technological and community-based approaches can play an important role in the biological evaluation of FCZ effectiveness, and collecting such data could improve the management of FCZs throughout the region.

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Fish conservation zones as tools for fisheries management and conservation in lao pdr

  1. 1. Sinsamout Ounboundisane, Erin Loury, Samuel Leslie, and Shaara Ainsley (FISHBIO) Fish Conservation Zones (FCZs) as Tools for Fisheries Management and Conservation in Lao PDR Supported byPresented to AFS Portland August 18, 2015
  2. 2. • Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) • Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) • Ecological Reserves • Fish Habitat Protection Area (FHPA) Many Examples of Limiting Use to Protect Aquatic Places Carpenteria Salt Marsh Reserve Cottesloe Reef Fish Habitat Protected Area Dry Tortugas Ecological Reserve Gerick Bergsma 2009/Marine Photobank Tsun-Thai Chai/Marine Photobank Jiangang Luo/Marine Photobank
  3. 3. • Fish Conservation Zones (FCZs) are areas that limit or prohibit fishing activities to protect fish populations. • FCZs in Laos are entirely in freshwater environments: rivers, wetlands, reservoirs, etc. • FCZs may be closed seasonally or year round. • Move than 1,000 FCZs have been created in Lao PDR. Fish Conservation Zones: Freshwater Protection in Laos
  4. 4. • According to the Lao Fisheries Law, “Establishment and protection of conservation zones for aquatic species and of their habitats” is a basic principle of fisheries management. • Fisheries Management Committees at the village level have the right and duty to: Legal Basis for FCZs in Lao Fisheries Law • Identify areas for conservation zones • Propose regulations for fisheries management • Publicize fisheries management plans • Implement fisheries management regulations
  5. 5. • Local Communities • NGO Partners • District Agriculture and Forestry Office • Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office • Department of Livestock and Fisheries FCZ Co-Management Involves Multiple Players
  6. 6. • Protect endangered fish species • Manage fishing pressure and enhance food security • Mitigate impacts from developments such as hydropower and mining FCZs Can be Used for Multiple Purposes Managing fishing pressure Hydropower mitigation Aquatic species conservation
  7. 7. Protecting Species While Enhancing Food Security Leslie 2015
  8. 8. • Benefits to aquatic species: • Protection of deep-pool refuge areas • Protection of spawning habitat and reproductive individuals • Networks of FCZs can benefit migratory species • Prohibition of destructive fishing practices (e.g. dynamite, poison, electrofishing). • Environmental benefits: • Prohibit harvesting trees along the riverbank • Prohibit sand and gravel extraction or gold mining Potential Ecological Benefits of FCZs
  9. 9. • Enhanced fishing catches from FCZ “spillover” • Fish “savings account” to be harvested by future generations • Sense of ownership and responsibility to manage local resources • Protection of Other Aquatic Animals and plants • Functional river habitats protected from destructive uses Potential Community Benefits of FCZs
  10. 10. 1. Establishing FCZs for Endangered Probarbus fishes in Northern Laos (completed) 2. Establishing an FCZ for Probarbus and Soft-Shelled Turtles at Kengmai Rapids, Laos (ongoing) 3. Developing a Guidebook for Monitoring FCZ Effectiveness (ongoing) 4. Establishing FCZs in Indawgyi Lake, Myanmar (Consultant to Fauna & Flora International - ongoing) FISHBIO’s Work on FCZs (Supported by CEPF)
  11. 11. FCZs for Endangered Probarbus Fishes • Jullien’s Golden Carp (Probarbus jullieni) = Endangered on IUCN Red List • Thicklipped Barb (Probarbus labeamajor) = Endangered on IUCN Red List • Some of largest fishes in Southeast Asia (up to 60 kg) • Targeted with gill nets during breeding season Dec-Feb
  12. 12. Finalize Regulations Opening Ceremonies FCZ Sign Installation Enforcement Training Establishing Fish Conservation Zones
  13. 13. • Community enforcement teams patrolled FCZs during Probarbus spawning season (Dec–March) • Confiscated multiple nets and fishing poles in the FCZ • Left warning notices and educated fishers about FCZ regulations • Apprehended four fisherman using illegal fishing gear; confiscated 60 kg of fish • Four illegal fishermen paid a total fine of 2,500,000 kip ($300), which was distributed to the local communities Community Enforcement Can be Effective
  14. 14. Many Organizations Have Established Hundreds of FCZs Across Laos
  15. 15. How many of these FCZs are actually working? What are the successes and challenges? What can we learn from one another? Many Organizations Have Established Hundreds of FCZs Across Laos
  16. 16. Few Studies of FCZ Effectiveness • Surveys of Local Ecological Knowledge about FCZs at 53 villages in Khong District (Baird & Flaherty 2005) • Fishers reported increases in many fish populations after FCZ establishment • 6 of these increased populations were species associated with deep-water pools (location of most FCZs) • Mark-recapture pilot study at 2 FCZs in Nam Kading (WWF and FISHBIO) • Demonstrated effectiveness of T-bar tags for Mekong fish mark-recapture • Documented fish movements beyond FCZ boundaries (Ounboundisane et al. 2013)
  17. 17. • Indicators provide a quantitative way to assess protected area effectiveness. • Effectiveness indicators have been developed for Marine Protected Areas in the several categories (Pomeroy et al. 2004): Next Steps: Need for Indicators of FCZ Effectiveness • Biophysical (focal species abundance, water quality, etc.) • Socio-economic (perceptions of seafood availability, household income distribution, etc.) • Governance (level of resource conflict, enforcement coverage, etc.) • New project will review and synthesize indicators for application in freshwater FCZs.
  18. 18. • Develop best-practice guidelines for the scientific monitoring of biophysical, socio-economic, and governance indicators of FCZ effectiveness. • Support a network of civil society organizations to use participatory methods to test the monitoring guidelines. • Disseminate the finalized best practices monitoring guidebook throughout Lao PDR and support organizations to implement. A Guidebook of Best Practices for Evaluating Indicators of Effectiveness for Fish Conservation Zones in Lao PDR