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Can Local Institutions Help Sustain Livelihoods in an Era of Fish Declines and Persistent Environmental Change? A Cambodian Case Study

  • Melissa Marschke


    (School of International Development and Global Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa, 120 University Private, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada)

  • Ouk Lykhim


    (Conservation International, B1-4 Phnom Penh Center, Phnom Penh, Cambodia)

  • Nong Kim


    (General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection, Ministry of Environment, 48 Preah Sihanouk Boulevard, Phnom Penh, Cambodia)

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    This paper sets out to explore fishers’ perceptions of environmental change in coastal Cambodia and to then examine the role of local institutions in working with villagers to adapt to such challenges. The analysis shows that: (1) fishers observe species decline, irregular tides and a change in weather patterns; and (2) local institutions have been working to address some of these issues through a series of resource management and livelihood projects for over a decade. We note that local institutions are well placed to deal with certain types of environmental change projects, such as protecting small patches of mangrove trees or creating fish sanctuaries, along with less controversial, tourism-related projects. It is impossible, however, for local institutions to tackle bigger issues, such as over-fishing or large-scale resource extraction. Fishing villages are dealing with multiple challenges (environmental change and beyond), which may make fishing a less viable option for coastal villagers in the medium to long term. As such, key policy responses include acknowledging and building upon the work of local institutions, enhanced support for patrolling at national and provincial levels, developing response scenarios for coastal environmental change, involving local institutions in scientific monitoring and piloting projects that consider fishing and non-fishing livelihoods.

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    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 6 (2014)
    Issue (Month): 5 (April)
    Pages: 2490-2505

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:6:y:2014:i:5:p:2490-2505:d:35629
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    1. Edella Schlager & Elinor Ostrom, 1992. "Property-Rights Regimes and Natural Resources: A Conceptual Analysis," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 68(3), pages 249-262.
    2. Badjeck, Marie-Caroline & Allison, Edward H. & Halls, Ashley S. & Dulvy, Nicholas K., 2010. "Impacts of climate variability and change on fishery-based livelihoods," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 375-383, May.
    3. Anthony D’Agostino & Benjamin Sovacool, 2011. "Sewing climate-resilient seeds: implementing climate change adaptation best practices in rural Cambodia," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 16(6), pages 699-720, August.
    4. Arief Anshory Yusuf & Herminia Francisco, 2009. "Climate Change Vulnerability Mapping for Southeast Asia," EEPSEA Special and Technical Paper tp200901s1, Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA), revised Jan 2009.
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