Fisheries Management at Lake Tonle Sap in Cambodia

Fisheries Management at Lake Tonle Sap in Cambodia

Improvement of the livelihood of fishers through protection and management of natural resources at Tonle Sap wetlands complex in Cambodia

Lake Tonle Sap in Cambodia is one of the largest lakes in Southeast Asia and one of the world's most abundant inland waters for fish. Since 2014, Tonle Sap has also been represented in the global Living Lakes network.

Declining fish catches

As a result of the heavy monsoon rains between May and October, the water level of the lake rises by several metres and floods an area the size of Schleswig-Holstein (one of the German federal states) every year. The people at the lake have adapted to the changing water levels and live in floating villages. During the monsoon season the whole life takes place on the water. 90 percent of the population live from fishing. But in the last two decades fish stocks have come under severe pressure. Illegal and unregulated fishing by commercial fishing fleets has led to the depletion of economically important fish species. As a result, the nets of local artisanal fishermen in the floating villages were increasingly left empty.


Finally, in 2012, the Cambodian government made a radical change. Virtually overnight, all commercial fishing concessions were cancelled and fishing rights were transferred in full to the local communities. The government called on the communities to set up local fishing committees, which were now responsible for the management of fish stocks. To date, some 500 of these Community Fisheries (CFi) have been established across Cambodia. Only very few of them, however, are in a position to implement targeted measures for the protection and conservation of community fish stocks. Illegal and unregulated fishing with modern fishing gear is still widespread. Fish stocks could recover within a few years through, if effective measures such as the designation of no fishing zones are declared and a fishing levy is collected to finance conservation measures.

Helping to establish a fisheries committee

Against this background, GNF and its Cambodian partner organisation Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT) are carrying out a project to support the fishing community in the floating village of Phat Sanday. The main aim of the project is to establish a democratically legitimated fisheries committee and to support the designation and monitoring of a 10 km² fish conservation area in the community. Specifically, we support the community of Phat Sanday through:

  • Advice on the preparations for the election of the fisheries committee
  • Develop a work program for the committee and provide training for committee members
  • Establishment of a 10 km² fish conservation area
  • Support for boat patrols to monitor the fishing ban
  • Conservation measures for fish stocks, e.g. artificial shelters for young fish
  • Development of alternative sources of income in the community, e.g. ecotourism

Contact person

Mr Thies Geertz

Global Nature Fund (GNF) - Büro Radolfzell

Phone: +49 7732 9995 83


 Numerous families live in floating houses on Lake Tonle Sap.
 The daily catch is the most important source of protein for the residents.
 Everyday life on the lake.
 Preparations and consultations for the election of the Fisheries Committee.
 Fishing plays an important role in daily nutrition and as a source of income.
 The fish caught is marketed regionally, but is also self-sufficient.
 The conservation measures will help fish stocks to recover and stabilise in the long term.

Project Partner

 Die Organisation Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT) ist unser Projektpartner.

Main Funder

 German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)


 Foundation Ursula Merz

Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals

The project should make a concrete contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
 Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Project Period:


Project Country: 


Project Partner:


Main Funder:




January 2019 – December 2021




Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT) 


German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)


Wilo-Foundation and Foundation Ursula Merz