Towards Sustainable Co-Management of Mekong River Inland Aquatic Resources, Including Fisheries, in Southern Lao PDR

by Ian G. Baird

Apr 1, 2000
This paper presents historical information regarding the development of the aquatic resource co-management system in Khong District, Champasak Province, Southern Lao PDF. Between 1993 and 1998, 63 villages in Khong District established co-management regulations to sustainably manage and conserve inland aquatic resources, including fisheries, in the Mekong River, streams, backwater wetlands, and rice paddy fields. Local government has endorsed these regulations, but villages have been given the mandate to choose what regulations to adopt based on local conditions and community consensus. Communities are also empowered to alter regulations in response to changing circumstances. Villagers have widely reported increased fish catches since the adoption of aquatic resource co-management regulations. Improved solidarity and coordination within and between rural fishing and farming villages has also been observed. While many of the lessons learned from the co-management experience in Khong are applicable to other parts of Laos and the region, unique conditions in different areas will require inventive approaches to meet local needs. Common property regimes can break down in crisis, but experience in Khong indicates that they can also be strengthened in response to resource management crisis.
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