Tuesday, July 19, 2005

ADB Supporting Research on Inland Fisheries in Cambodia

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - ADB will support further capacity building of Cambodia's Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute (IFREDI), to help promote the sustainable management of the country's inland fisheries, through a technical assistance (TA) grant approved for $300,000.

Cambodia's inland fisheries are the fourth most productive in the world in terms of total freshwater fish catch. And, given the size of Cambodia's small (but fast growing) population, their contribution to income, jobs, and food security is likely higher than that in any other country.

However, population and development pressures coupled with poor governance and technology have intensified exploitation as well as habitat degradation and change, especially in the flooded forest. These have led to smaller average catches, biodiversity loss, worsening poverty for many fisher folk and fish-dependent households, weaker access rights for the poor, and escalating conflict. Inland fisheries are now close to their maximum production.

"Cambodia's inland fisheries will not be available forever if they are not cared for, protected, and tapped in a sustainable way. Without fish to provide protein and income, many people will starve," says Olivier Serrat, an ADB Senior Project Economist. "Understanding of the factors that are detrimental to sustainable management of this vital resource is limited and requires continuous, intensive scientific and social science research."

The TA builds on a 2003 ADB-backed TA that helped make IFREDI an efficient, effective, and relevant research and development institute through on-the-job training and formal training courses. That TA resulted in much-enhanced, if not newly created, indigenous capacity for institute management, research and development, technology transfer, and policy development and dialogue.

The new TA will build further the ability of IFREDI staff to disseminate research findings by accelerating technology transfer, support more research and development, and strengthen policy development and dialogue.

"The success of IFREDI hinges on its ability to develop and disseminate research findings to policymakers, fish farmers, fish workers, women, traders, and other key stakeholders," adds Mr. Serrat. "At the same time, IFREDI staff need to hone and practice their research skills to remain current and continue to feed policy development. Early exploration of what governance structure can best sustain IFREDI is also desirable."

The Department of Fisheries is the executing agency for the TA. The International Center for Living Aquatic Resource Management, otherwise known as the WorldFish Center will implement the TA. The WorldFish Center will also contribute $50,000 equivalent toward the TA's total cost of $410,000. The Government will contribute $60,000.

The TA is due for completion in November 2005. It will complement the suite of loan and TA projects that ADB promotes under the Tonle Sap Initiative.

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