Project Lead: FISHBIO
Country: Lao PDR
As part of our program in international conservation and research, FISHBIO is working in central Lao PDR to assess the species diversity, biology, nutritional value, and economic value of fish in a major tributary of the Mekong River. Local villagers have collected much of the data for this project through a participatory approach. We initiated the project in 2009 through conversations with government resource managers, NGOs (especially Wildlife Conservation Society), and fisher committees active in Lao PDR’s Bolikhamxay Province. These groups requested quantitative data on the amount and economic value of fish caught, sold, and consumed in four villages near the Nam Kading National Protected Area.
We trained 16 villagers to collect data on fishing harvests, fish consumption in households, and fish sales at markets in four different villages located along the Nam Kading River. Data collection occurred from June 2010 to January 2012. This participatory approach allows us to increase the temporal and geographic coverage of our sampling, and to engage and empower the people using the Mekong’s resources to better sustain wild fisheries.
While gathering this information, we also collected important baseline data on fish species composition in the harvests, relative abundance, length-weight ratios, and migration timing. The results of this study are now being used to develop management strategies and conservation plans, and will be available online with reports in English and Lao languages. We presented our preliminary results and described our participatory approach at the 2012 World Fisheries Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland.