Balancing human demand for land and food with the need to protect the world’s dwindling natural resources is a global challenge. For developing nations, the challenge can seem insurmountable in the face of booming populations, entrenched poverty and limited institutional know-how for creating sustainable resource management policies. Developing nations can also miss out on tapping into the vast economic benefits that can come with reducing environmental damage and over-exploitation.
Tonle Sap is the largest lake in Southeast Asia and one of the most productive freshwater fisheries in the world. Fish from Tonle Sap provide an essential source of protein and micronutrients, critical to the health of families in Cambodia, a country still plagued by high rates of childhood malnutrition. Managing water resources for food and income also means harnessing the full value of these fisheries for local communities.
The Mekong is an exceptional river in many ways. In terms of fish biodiversity, it is the world’s second richest river after the Amazon (www.fishbase.org). With 6 to 18% of the global freshwater fish catch, it is also home to the largest freshwater fisheries in the world.