Koh Sralao, Cambodia

Seas of Change: The Case of a Cambodian Coastal Fishing Community

Koh Sralao, Cambodia

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Koh Sralao is a small 300 household mangrove-estuarine fishing village on the southwestern coast of Cambodia. Villagers rely heavily on the marine environment with fish making up the bulk of their dietary protein. The local marine resources including shrimp, crab and fish have sustained them, and their livelihoods, for many decades. Fishers have spoken about fish declines for decades and continue to be concerned about fish stocks. In addition to the persistent decline in catch, sand dredging, which began in the Koh Sralao area in late 2007, has had an impact on the aquatic resources surrounding the Koh Sralao community. Villagers have been concerned about the sand dredging since it began, and have been involved in protests, public consultations and meetings with sand dredgers. To address declines in aquatic resources, the Koh Sralao community has worked together to safeguard their natural environment. They have become aware of the importance of conserving the mangrove forests that form a critical link to their livelihood. For example, annual mangrove replanting has become a community tradition since the late 1990s. Additionally, households have responded to marine resource degradation by shifting livelihood activities away from fisheries to factory wage-labor.