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Tonle Sap Lake Fisheries

G-FISH - Global Fish Alliance
Project leader
Blake Ratner
25 May 2011
31 Oct 2011
Fish diversity in the Mekong River Basin is surpassed only by that of the Amazon River. A key element of the Mekong River Basin is the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia. The lake derives 62% of its water from the Mekong River and is the largest lake in Southeast Asia. Covering an area of 250,000-300,000 hectares during the dry season, it increases to between three and four times this size during the wet season. In 1997, the lake was nominated as a ‘Biosphere Reserve’ under UNESCO’s ‘Man and the Biosphere Program’, which aims to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science.
The livelihoods of most of the almost three million Cambodians who live in the provinces adjoining the lake are dependent on this wetland ecosystem. Indeed, the Tonle Sap supplies Cambodia’s population with the majority of its animal protein intake.

Global FISH Alliance (G-FISH)

The Global FISH Alliance (G-FISH) project promotes sustainable fisheries and aquaculture practices through the application of an ecosystem-wide approach that balances economic, environmental, governmental and social components essential to enhancing livelihoods and biodiversity.

G-FISH has adopted the SCALE® (System-wide Collaborative Action for Livelihoods and the Environment) approach to support sustainable fisheries in the Tonle Sap Lake. The structured approach offered by SCALE helps stakeholders to develop a common road map to initiate, implement, and evaluate ecosystem-wide collaborative actions for large-scale impact. The goal is to have stakeholders committed to implementing action plans that build collaboration from the community to the lake basin level.
WorldFish contributed to organizing a “Whole System in the Room” workshop in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in September 2011. This workshop brought together representatives from all sectors in one room to find common ground, determine shared goals, and commit to collaborative actions. The G-FISH team at FHI 360 is supporting continued planning through a series of task forces formed at the workshop.  
Through an associated project, Strengthening Aquatic Resource Governance (STARGO), WorldFish is supporting follow-on actions that address one of the priority areas identified by local stakeholders.  These actions focus on assessing management options and supporting institutional innovations for areas of the lake formerly managed as fishing lots.