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Preparing Cambodian Fisheries for a Changing Climate

CCCA-FiA – Building Capacity for Integrating Climate Change Adaptation in Fisheries Sector in Cambodia
Project leader
Yumiko Kura
1 Nov 2011
31 Mar 2013
With the Mekong cutting through the region, and Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake lying at its heart, it’s no surprise that much of Cambodia’s population relies on its waterways. With climate variability and uncertainty, the delicate ecosystems that are essential to the long-term survival of Cambodian fisheries are increasingly under threat.
In order to adapt to a changing climate, the fisheries industry needs to integrate climate change into its operations. The CCCA-FiA project – Building Capacity for Integrating Climate Change Adaptation in Fisheries Sector in Cambodia – aims to prepare the Cambodian fisheries sector for the potential impacts of climate change.
Building on the long-standing partnership between the Cambodian Fisheries Administration (FiA) and the WorldFish Center, the project will work with key stakeholders at national and local levels to ensure climate change preparedness. The project is funded through the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance (CCCA) Trust Fund by donors including the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the European Union (EU), the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Three primary objectives form the basis of the project that will help to build the capacity of the fisheries industry to respond to the changes that climate change will bring.

Identifying Impacts and Raising Awareness

Cambodia enjoys a monsoonal wet season that sees Tonle Sap (Great Lake) engorge with water flowing down from the Mekong’s upper reaches. In the wet season, Tonle Sap overflows its dry season borders to up to six-times the size. This seasonal ebb and flow makes regions of Cambodia prone to the devastations of flood and drought alike. Understanding how climate change will exacerbate weather fluctuations and alter river flows is crucial to safeguarding Cambodia’s fisheries.
The first objective of the project is to identify the climate change impacts that can be expected in different geographic areas and sub-sectors of the industry, and establish which communities are most vulnerable. Getting the information to those who need it most is also an essential aim of the project. Once the key climate change impacts and vulnerabilities have been identified, awareness within the industry and community groups will be assessed. The project team will look at the skills, knowledge, attitudes and practices of key fisheries stakeholders, and develop Information, Communication and Education (ICE) tools to improve climate change awareness. Through training, workshops and media events, everyone from central government officials to local fisheries managers and community groups will gain the skills to identify and respond to the potential effects of climate change.

Building Institutional Capacity

Regulation at the national and regional levels governs the operation of the fisheries industry in Cambodia. The second objective of the project is to ensure that climate change is integrated into this regulatory framework. The WorldFish Center, working with the FiA central and regional authorities, local resource managers and development practitioners, will identify policies and processes that can be modified to incorporated climate change in regulatory document. Once identified, a process of ‘climate change proofing’ will ensure that climate change considerations are central to government policies and guidelines. This will also help to build the capacity of the fisheries authorities to include climate change in future policy directions. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) will be provided with the newly drafted policies for consideration and implementation.

Testing Climate Change Responses

The final objective involves hands-on demonstrations of which climate change adaptation measures work in the field. The first step is a thorough review of current practices that have helped fishery-dependent communities to successfully adapt to changing climatic conditions. Up to five strategies will then be selected for pilot testing in two key fishing environments: the Tonle Sap floodplain, and the Mekong river floodplain. By adopting a highly participatory approach, the strategies tested will cover a range of fisheries sub-sectors, from small-scale aquaculture and community fisheries, to flooded forest conservation and post-harvest management practices. Lessons learned from these field pilot studies will generate recommendations for future fisheries policies, management strategies, and regulatory guidelines.
By bringing climate change to the fore, a resilient and adaptable fisheries industry in Cambodia will be fostered, safeguarding the livelihoods of the millions who depend upon it for sustenance and employment.