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Sustainability 2014, 6(5), 2490-2505; doi:10.3390/su6052490

Can Local Institutions Help Sustain Livelihoods in an Era of Fish Declines and Persistent Environmental Change? A Cambodian Case Study

School of International Development and Global Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa, 120 University Private, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada
Conservation International, B1-4 Phnom Penh Center, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection, Ministry of Environment, 48 Preah Sihanouk Boulevard, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 February 2014 / Revised: 15 April 2014 / Accepted: 16 April 2014 / Published: 30 April 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [597 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]


This paper sets out to explore fishers’ perceptions of environmental change in coastal Cambodia and to then examine the role of local institutions in working with villagers to adapt to such challenges. The analysis shows that: (1) fishers observe species decline, irregular tides and a change in weather patterns; and (2) local institutions have been working to address some of these issues through a series of resource management and livelihood projects for over a decade. We note that local institutions are well placed to deal with certain types of environmental change projects, such as protecting small patches of mangrove trees or creating fish sanctuaries, along with less controversial, tourism-related projects. It is impossible, however, for local institutions to tackle bigger issues, such as over-fishing or large-scale resource extraction. Fishing villages are dealing with multiple challenges (environmental change and beyond), which may make fishing a less viable option for coastal villagers in the medium to long term. As such, key policy responses include acknowledging and building upon the work of local institutions, enhanced support for patrolling at national and provincial levels, developing response scenarios for coastal environmental change, involving local institutions in scientific monitoring and piloting projects that consider fishing and non-fishing livelihoods. View Full-Text
Keywords: small-scale fisheries; environmental change; perceptions; institutions; livelihoods; Cambodia small-scale fisheries; environmental change; perceptions; institutions; livelihoods; Cambodia
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Marschke, M.; Lykhim, O.; Kim, N. Can Local Institutions Help Sustain Livelihoods in an Era of Fish Declines and Persistent Environmental Change? A Cambodian Case Study. Sustainability 2014, 6, 2490-2505.

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