Cambodia's aquarian reforms : the emerging challenges for policy and research

The main objective of the document is to make a modest attempt to highlight the challenges which are emerging with the current phase of Cambodia's aquarian reforms -- the most important component of which is the current transition from fishing lots to community fisheries. The challenges include the realms of institutional and policy reform, local action, innovation and research. We contextualize our effort by commencing with an assessment of the importance of the aquatic resources and by providing a brief historical background to the reforms. This is followed by an examination of the changes in the access and property rights and the system changes which have been brought about as a result of the reform. How some of the transitional changes can be assessed and the manner in which the efforts at community fisheries can be made more economically and socially viable are also addressed. We deal with the complex issue of social identity and the aspirations for creating a new sense of community. The new role of women, the importance of creating networks and closer collaboration with Cambodia's local governance structures and vibrant civil society organisations are also highlighted. The reforms have created new legal realms of local 'micro' ecosystem space and resource governance. But this should not detract from the need for an understanding of the larger 'global' context -- be it in relation to the ecosystem dynamics or governance priorities. We suggest that research and development priorities must be re-oriented to consider ways of dealing with the vast number of new and evolving 'local realities' and yet, link them up contemporaneously to the big 'global picture'. We end with a few recommendations addressed to different actors involved in the process of aquarian reforms. There is a call for a new mission and greater collaboration by research institutions; new methodologies for data collection; greater participation with local governance structures; an exit strategy for aid agencies and the need for setting up a national institute for co-management applications and training.


Kurien, J., So Nam, Mao Sam Onn Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute (2006)
IFReDI. Phnom Penh. 34 p.