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Tropentag, October 5 - 7, 2004 in Berlin

"Rural Poverty Reduction
through Research for Development and Transformation"

Community Action to Protect Fishery Resources in Nha Phu Lagoon, Vietnam

Harry Strehlow

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Department for Animal Breeding in the Tropics and Subtropics, Germany


Rural communities around Nha Phu Lagoon depend on coastal fishery resources for their livelihoods. The prevailing problem is that unorganised Vietnamese fishermen are watching helplessness at the vast degradation of their natural resources in which they have a substantial share. The over-exploitation of marine resources is a common and recognised problem and fishery resources protection and management is under development. However, so far government measurements are not yet sufficient to carry out the assigned tasks.
For a period of six months participatory action research following an Integrated Natural Resource Management approach was carried out visiting 12 fishing villages around Nha Phu Lagoon. Electric fishing is still very common in Nha Phu Lagoon and was identified as one major factor in the destruction of coastal fishery resources and social structures. Electric fishing gear stuns small fish and shrimp but kills larvae and eggs of aquatic species floating in the water body. Electric fishing violates Article 6 according to Resolution No. 17/2003/QH11 of the National Fisheries Law. The main reasons fishermen engage in electric fishing is the low initial investment cost and that no specific knowledge is needed. In addition, electric fishing is less labour intensive and the income slightly higher than from traditional gill net fishing methods. Seven years ago electric fishing was introduced to the village of Ha Lien. Soon half of the fishermen were using this destructive fishing method. The following rapid reduction of fishery resources lead to conflicts that paralysed the entire community until a village meeting was arranged to raise awareness and persuade fishermen to ban electric fishing. The whole community agreed to ban electric fishing and in 2002 a local fishery resource protection group was established to control illegal electric fishing activities in the area. The local government authorised the self-formed group and 20 group members patrol and confiscate electric fishing equipment. The number of electric fishermen in the area has declined significantly. Today fishermen in Ha Lien are characterised by high awareness towards the degraded state of their natural resources and strong communal ties have formed between households.

Keywords: CBRM, Coastal fisheries, community action, community management, electric fishing, fishery resources protection, self organisation, Vietnam

Contact Address: Harry Strehlow, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Department for Animal Breeding in the Tropics and Subtropics
current address: , e-mail: harry.strehlow@gmx.de

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