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Fish catch and community composition in a data-poor Mekong River subcatchment characterised through participatory surveys of harvest from an artisanal fishery

Patricio, Harmony C., Zipper, Stephen A., Peterson, Matthew L., Ainsley, Shaara M., Loury, Erin K., Ounboundisane, Sinsamout, Demko, Doug B.
Marine & freshwater research 2019 v.70 no.2 pp. 153-168
artisanal fishing, collaborative management, community structure, cooperative research, fish, fisheries law, fisheries management, gillnets, rivers, society, subwatersheds, surveys, villages, Laos, Mekong River
Many inland artisanal fisheries have not been surveyed by scientists. In this study we used some participatory research methods to characterise a data-poor fishery in a tributary of the Mekong River. Sixteen local villagers from four villages were trained to record harvest data along a 25-km reach of the lower Nam Kading River. Catch records included 65 fish genera representing at least 93 species, with 11 species of concern on the IUCN Red List. During 894 individual fisher landing surveys, a total of 1433.8kg of fish catch was reported. The majority of fishers (87%) used nets, and the catch per unit effort with gill-nets averaged 66g net-1h-1. Analysis revealed differences in catch rates and the genus assemblage among villages. High levels of diversity, and the presence of species assessed as endangered by the IUCN Red List, highlight the need for further studies and conservation interventions in the area. The National Fisheries Law in Lao PDR provides a unique opportunity for co-management, because shared management between civil society and government is written into the law and implemented extensively. Participatory research activities can serve as a bridge for communities to engage with government to inform fisheries management.