The rice field fisheries (RFFs) of Cambodia cover a large part of the country in practically all areas where rice is cultivated. For human nutrition, fish and other aquatic animals (collectively referred to as ‘fish’ in this project) vary in importance – depending on the typology of the rice field fisheries, the source of the supply (e.g. lake and major rivers) and the demand or ‘need’ for fish as a source of animal protein.
In developing countries like Cambodia, riverine and coastal waters are the lifeblood of many communities, and have been for millennia. Small-scale fisheries operations feed the local populace, employ local workers, and are a way of life for millions. With demand for fish products’ soaring worldwide, aquaculture in developing nations is seen as a tantalizing opportunity to tap into a growing global market. But cashing in on this global boom is easier said than done for the predominantly poor fishers working in low-tech aquaculture operations. The Pro-poor Business Models for Small-scale Aquaculture (BMSA) project aims to alleviate poverty by identifying innovative business models and finance options that will help small-scale aquaculture enterprises take their produce from catch to market.
Timor Leste is one of six nations within the Coral Triangle (CT), a region located along the equator at the confluence of the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. Despite an extensive coastline the country has made scarce use of its living marine resources, and annual fish consumption is less than 4 kg per head (compared to a global average of 17 kg per head). Neglect of the marine economy and ineffective governance are sapping the potential of a sector that could contribute significantly to the national economy and the health and welfare of the population.
The Mekong River ranks second in freshwater fish species richness among rivers in the world, with more than 780 species identified. More than 100 of these fish species are long-distance migrants, often travelling over hundreds of kilometers. This basin is also home to the most intensive inland fishery in the world, producing 2.1 million tonnes of fish a year (equivalent to more than three times the total annual inland fish production of West Africa).
This project is fundamentally concerned with maintaining the flow of environmental goods and services to benefit human wellbeing, with improved human wellbeing proposed as a desirable outcome of ‘development’. The novelty of the approach is to address the challenges of environmental sustainability and resilience from a gender-sensitive wellbeing perspective, rather than from the more usual “resource-rent maximisation” perspective of fisheries economic policy.