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Project Preparation Grant (PPG) of the “Enhancing transboundary fisheries management in the Lower Mekong Basin”

SETIN has been contracted to prepare the Project Preparation Grant (PPG) for the “Enhancing Transboundary Fisheries Management in the Lower Mekong Basin” under IUCN’s supervision, serving as the GEF Agency.

This initiative targets significant challenges and opportunities within the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB), recognized as the world’s most extensive inland fishery and a biodiversity hotspot, ranking third in biodiversity after the Amazon and Congo river systems. This region not only supports a substantial portion of the regional economy through fishing but also plays a crucial role in food security, providing significant quantities of fish and other aquatic animals annually, valued at approximately $8 billion.

The primary aim of this project is to stabilize the LMB’s fish stocks at 2020 levels to ensure the ecological and economic sustainability of the region. This effort is essential as Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand face declining fish populations due to ineffective cross-sector coordination and inconsistent fisheries management. These issues pose a threat to the local food security and global biodiversity, highlighting the need for focused intervention in these countries.

Central to this initiative is the strategy to enhance regional management practices and address the severe impacts of unregulated hydropower developments, sand mining, upstream water retention, and climate change—all of which are significant threats to the LMB’s biodiversity and sustainability. The project intends to foster robust transboundary dialogue under the 1995 Mekong River Agreement to strengthen regional cooperation. The initiative also aims to support the resilience of local fishing communities and promote the evidence-based restoration of essential freshwater ecosystems.

Strategically, the project will leverage decades of fisheries data compiled by the Mekong River Commission and existing strategic frameworks such as the Basin-wide Fisheries Management and Development Strategy 2018-2022 and the Basin Development Strategy for the Mekong River Basin 2021-2030. These documents form the basis for aiming to harmonize fisheries governance and align regional policies to enhance the sustainability of these critical transboundary resources.

The project team comprises a diverse group of experts, including Joe Ryan (Team Leader), Camillo Ponziani, Daniel Bazzucchi, Giacomo Cozzolino, Catarina Mota, Hep Sreyleak, Chanthaphone Thammavong, Anouxay Phommalath, and Nguyen Van San. On Monday, June 3, 2024, the Inception Meeting was held to discuss the approach and the work program proposed by the team through the Inception Report.