A Guidebook for Assessing Fish Conservation Zones in Laos

Interviewing Villagers

Community-based, co-managed Fish Conservation Zones (FCZs), which are freshwater no-fishing areas, have become popular tools for managing fish populations in Laos. However, few resources or guidelines exist for assessing whether these protected areas are effectively meeting their goals. The only way to determine whether FCZs are actually working is through monitoring and evaluation. This assessment is an essential element in the process of adaptive management; however, greater emphasis is often placed on establishing new FCZs without investigating how to make existing and future FCZs better.

Through this project, FISHBIO Laos seeks to develop a best-practices guidebook for FCZ assessment as a resource for civil society organizations and government counterparts in Laos. The FCZ guidebook will include methods for measuring indicators of biological, social, and governance effectiveness. The project will draw on the successes and challenges of establishing FCZs in Laos, as well as on the body of scientific work developed around the assessment of marine protected areas (MPAs). Another goal of the project is to provide networking opportunities for the many organizations (NGOs, private sector, and government agencies) that have been involved in establishing FCZs throughout Laos.

This project consists of three major components:

  • Developing indicators of effectiveness to create a guidebook of best practices for assessing FCZs in Laos.
  • Testing the guidebook by working with civil society organizations to measure FCZ indicators at pilot sites in the field.
  • Refining, finalizing, and disseminating the FCZ assessment guidebook.

This project is funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, and will use the Mekong Fish Network as a platform to share project experiences and provide networking opportunities for organizations involved with or interested in FCZs.

Project partners: FISHBIO Laos, WWF Laos, and the Lao Department of Livestock and Fisheries.