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Title : Impact of Cambodian Decentralization Policy in Fishery Management on Human Security of Fishers Around the Tonle Sap Lake
Type : Master Degree Thesis
Year : 2011
University:  International Development Studies, Chulalongkorn University
Author : Borin UN


Tonle Sap Lake (TSL) is the largest permanent freshwater body in Southeast Asia and among the most productive freshwater ecosystems in the world. Fisheries from TSL directly support more than one million people around the lake and provide the single largest source of protein for Cambodia’s population.

The study investigates whether decentralization in fishery management in Cambodia around the TSL and the establishment of community fisheries (CFs) has strengthened local communities’ economic and food security. Three communities in Battambang Province with differing degrees of success in establishing a CF were examined to conduct a comparative analysis, namely: Prek Trob, where a successful CF has been established; Doun Try where an unsuccessful CF has been established; and Kbal Taol where the community has yet to create a CF. The study’s conceptual framework differentiates decentralization into: deconcentration, whereby central government delegates power and responsibility to lower government institutions; and democratic decentralization whereby power and responsibility are transferred to local communities.

The study finds that democratic decentralization has not yet fully granted the communities with the necessary powers, resource use rights and autonomy in decision-making to develop and manage the fishery resources in their community. At the same time, deconcentration has not totally created responsive and accountable authorities. As a result, Cambodia’s decentralization policy in fishery management has not yet proved to strengthen the economic and food security of local fishers around TSL.

To remedy the gaps of Cambodia’s decentralization policy in fishery management, further deconcentration and democratic decentralization in fisheries management must be in place. There must also be more effective enforcement of existing fishery laws through both education and policing, including: addressing corruption in the fisheries sector; taking action against illegal fishers; and halting destruction of fish habitats. Meanwhile, a greater role and incentives should also be given to Commune Councils to engage and partner with local communities in the management and conservation of fisheries resources.