The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Cambodia is teaming up with the Fisheries Administration and US-based Mississippi State University (MSU) to carry out a research project on the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture resources in the Sre Ambel river system.
WCS country director Ken Serey Rotha said on Monday the project is a knowledge-sharing programme for MSU students and professors to study species such as fish, crabs, lobsters, frogs, turtles, shrimp and others in Koh Kong and Preah Sihanouk provinces.
Rotha said the research was a complement to WCS’ EU, US Forest Service (USFS)-funded conservation work to establish community fisheries and family aquaculture along the river.
“The main purpose is to reduce fishing or encroachment on wildlife along the canals that we are conserving. So if we help [people] to have a decent business other than illegal fishing, our natural resources will survive,” he said.
He said the planned research with US students will last three years from October, and he wants to involve Cambodian students to exchange experiences and knowledge.
The MSU website said: “Fish is an important resource for nutrition and commerce in Cambodia. In rural communities, fishing has been a way of life for generations, but many communities have changed gradually.
“Especially, communities living in the Sre Ambel river system. It’s an example of life change that can serve as a model for many communities in Southeast Asia.”
The website said local communities in Sre Ambel area of Koh Kong and Preah Sihanouk provinces will be trained to manage and adapt to life changes.
Communities will be assessed on local food processing preferences and capabilities, comparing different food processing techniques and practices using processed fish products.
The MSU website said the programme will be very useful in managing fishery resources and sustainable nutrition in addition to natural fishing.
Nuth Vanna, a representative of community fisheries in the Sre Ambel area of Koh Kong province, said on Monday she had received information but did not know if WCS would allow her community to participate.
“We used to fish in the river and lakes in our village but not anymore. We raise fish for just three months now. But I don’t know about the techniques to raise fish. If there are experts providing training or more explanation, that’s good and I want to participate in the project,” Vanna said.