Some fishermen living in core areas of the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve in Kampong Thom province claim that fishing yields have been declining over the last three years due to low water levels in the wet season, forest fires in the dry season and climate change.
This was brought up during a recent meeting between the Ministry of Environment, representatives from Unesco, relevant authorities and members of the Boeng Tonle Chhmar and Stung Sen community, that discussed preserving the lake’s resources and sustainably improving local livelihoods.
“During the interaction with fishermen and members of the Community Protected Area (CPA) in Balot, Peam Bang commune, participants indicated there has been a decrease in fish catch. Fishing is the primary occupation of communities in and around the core areas, which are increasingly vulnerable due to depleting natural resources,” Unesco said in a press release.
It added that Kampong Thom provincial administration acknowledged the need to protect natural resources, strengthen fishing communities and adapt to climate change as part of the provincial administration plan. However, there is a need to enhance the resources and capacities of local officials and stakeholders to ensure effective implementation of the plan.
Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve is an internationally-recognised learning site for sustainable development enlisted as part of Unesco’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 1997.
“Along with augmenting support for patrolling and monitoring of core areas, it is essential to strengthening coordination mechanisms among different institutions to curb illegal activities and strengthen capacities to promote effective co-management practices based on sound scientific-solutions,” Unesco stated.
It has been recorded that the Tonle Sap is facing an increasing risk of environmental degradation, loss of habitat and unsustainable use of natural resources in recent times.
The Unesco Biosphere Reserve, enforced by a Royal Decree in 2001, is a unique ecosystem, harbouring rich biodiversity and providing significant socio-economic and cultural values for Cambodia.
It is intricately linked to the Mekong river system, through an annual flood-pulse which causes the Tonle Sap lake to expand nearly four-times its size during the wet season.
Meanwhile, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) and Korea Development Institute (KDI) launched the second joint Knowledge Sharing Programme for 2020-2021 yesterday, to enhance the MRC’s flood and drought monitoring, forecasting and management, and dissemination of information.
The Cambodian CEO of MRC An Pich Hatda said: “This second Knowledge Sharing Programme comes at a very critical time as the Mekong region is facing increasing risks from extreme floods and droughts, development activities and climate change.”