GNF - Sustainable Fishery and Eco-Tourism at Lake Tonle Sap Cambodia

Eco-Tourism at Lake Tonle Sap, Cambodia



Lake Tonle Sap is South East’s largest lake and one of the richest freshwater sources in the world. Due to a unique natural phenomenon, at the start of the monsoon rains, the size of the lake increases by 300 %.  Also very impressive is the extremely high biodiversity: over 200 species live in and around the lake, among them a large number of fish and reptile species such as the endemic Tonle Sap Water Snake.  The economy at Lake Tonle Sap is based on fish and the century old practice of rice cultivation.


Due to over-fishing of the lake, fishermen have been complaining about the dramatic declining fishing yields for quite some time. The use of non-sustainable fishery methods such as cyanide and dynamite fishing poses a serious threat to both the fish population and the water quality.

Project Goals

The primary aim of the project is to reduce the pressure on the biodiversity and the natural resources. The environmental awareness of the local residents plays a vital role: environmental responsibility can help protect Lake Tonle Sap and thus secure their livelihoods.


Environmental education activities as well as the demonstration of alternative fishing methods shall contribute to a more sustainable behaviour of the fishermen at Lake Tonle Sap. At the same time, measures to increase the income of the residents will be implemented to reduce the pressure on the ecosystem in the long term.

Project activities

To promote sustainable fishery and wise use of natural resources at Lake Tonle Sap, non-sustainable methods such as cyanide and dynamite fishing shall be replaced by the use of eco-friendly fish cages in order to stop the over-exploitation of the lake in the long term and secure the livelihood of the fishermen. For this purpose, a demonstration fish facility shall be established to train the fishermen in the new method and explain the manufacture of the cages. Additionally, the establishment of fisheries action groups shall contribute to improve the sale of fish, thus increasing the income of fishermen. Additionally, environmental education measures will be offered to the local people to sensitize them for sustainable fishery. 


Since then two environmental clubs were created involving 50 local fishers (among them 33 women) committed to sustainable use of the lake resources in ten focus areas. Participation in environmental education activities and information about alternative fishing methods contribute to promote sustainable behaviour among local fishermen and fisherwomen. Furthermore, government authorities and interested private regional groups were informed about the project thus ensuring future support of the implemented measures. Additionally, sustainable eco-tourism strategies were developed to provide the people living in the lake region alternative sources of income.


In a further step, GNF and FACT will develop eco-tourism strategies to reduce the dependence on fishery and take off the pressure on the eco-system on the whole. Selected fishermen families will be trained and encouraged to start their own small business.


Since 2010, Tonle Sap Lake has been represented by the NGO FACT in the international network Living Lakes. More information on Lake Tonle Sap can be found on our homepage.

 Swimming house on the Lake Tonle Sap
 Fish Processing
 Swimming fishing village
 Fresh-caught fishes
 Fishermen with nets

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Promotion of Sustainable Fishery and Eco-Tourism at Lake Tonle Sap in Cambodia


January 2012 – December 2012



Foundation Ursula Merz as well as by the Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V. and Rapunzel Naturkost AG with funds from the HAND IN HAND Fund


Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT)