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Socioeconomics and Livelihood Value of Tonle Sap Lake Fisheries


The importance of fisheries of the Tonle Sap Lake is indisputable, given the high contribution of about 60 percent to the total inland fisheries production. What may not be well recognized is the importance of Tonle Sap aquatic ecosystem to the livelihoods of over one million people living in and around the areas who rely heavily, if not entirely, on the resources. This synopsis draws on recent studies to provide estimates of values of fisheries and aquatic resources to local communities in the five provinces bordering the Tonle Sap Lake, i.e., Siem Reap, Battambang, Pursat, Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Thorn. The synthesis reveals that all households in these areas engage in diverse income generating and livelihood activities, including fishing, fish processing, fish marketing, fish culture, farming, daily labour and firewood collection, regardless of their primary occupation. The gross annual household income from direct consumptive uses for all fisheries-dependent households in the five provinces is estimated at US$233 million. Only about one-third of this is captured in households with income less than US$1,000, which constitute about 72 percent of all households. These low-income households are mainly small-scale, subsistence fishers and farmers with high livelihood dependency on the Tonle Sap Lake. Clearly, their livelihood concerns, such as secured access to resources, and basic rights to food security, jobs, education and health care, should be emphasized in discussions about sustainable management of Tonle Sap Lake fisheries and aquatic ecosystems.


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Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institut

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Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute

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