The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $73 million funding package to improve the resilience and sustainability of Cambodia's coastal and marine fisheries, according to an ADB press release on December 8.
The Sustainable Coastal and Marine Fisheries Project will be funded by an ADB loan of $41 million, in addition to a $22 million grant from ADB's Asian Development Fund, which provides grants to ADB's poorest and most vulnerable developing member countries, and a $10 million loan from the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund through its ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility (ACGF).
The Agence Française de Développement will also contribute $20 million, which will be managed by ADB.
“This project is ADB’s first significant investment in marine fisheries and represents an important milestone for its Action Plan for Healthy Oceans and Sustainable Blue Economies,” said Alvin Lopez, Senior Natural Resources and Agriculture Specialist for Southeast Asia at ADB.
Alvin added that it responds to several key government strategies, including the Strategic Planning Framework for Fisheries 2015-2024 and the Statement of Cambodia on Marine Fisheries Management Key Principles 2019 for sustainable marine fisheries resource management, conservation, and development.
The fishing subsector is a significant part of the Cambodian economy, accounting for 8 to 10 percent of the country's GDP. Marine fisheries account for 13 percent of the fishery subsector. However, overfishing and climate change have resulted in a significant loss in fish populations, affecting coastal communities and businesses, while driving up seafood prices.
The initial project will improve Cambodia's marine fisheries while also contributing to shared fish supplies and ecosystems in the Gulf of Thailand. It will assist the country's four coastal provinces of Kampot, Kep, Koh Kong, and Preah Sihanouk with reversing the country's dramatic decrease in fisheries, promoting sustainable mariculture, and improving fish landing locations to increase seafood safety.
“It is projected that the initiative will regenerate around 40 percent of the nearshore fishing into a more profitable and sustainable sector,” cited the statement.
The project will encourage private sector growth by allowing coastal communities and small companies to diversify their income, adopt sustainable practices, and grow into successful businesses. It will also promote women's economic empowerment by increasing women's participation in small and medium-sized businesses.
The initiative will assist 25 community fisheries groups and residents of 15 community-protected zones, totalling more than 20,000 homes, as well as a larger coastal population of around 200,000 people.
Sarip Sim, Trapeang Sangkae Community Based Ecotourism-Kampot Chairman of the Community Committee, said although there are numerous specialized institutions for natural resource management in the area, the management of the fisheries sector is inadequate in terms of legislation.
“There are no controls or boundaries to illegal fishing, which is independent and free. Illegal fishing has risen to the point that marine biodiversity is being destroyed and cannot be replaced, patrolling is similar to going to combat,” Sim said.