OXFAM in Cambodia and the Sesan, Srepok and Sekong River Protection Networks (3SPN) have launched a new two-year project in Ratanakkiri province.

The “Strengthening Community Based Conservation for Fishery Management in the Sesan and Srepok Rivers” project aims to increase joint conservation action.

According to an April 27 social media post by Oxfam, the new project is being implemented in 41 current and eight newly designated deep pool conservation areas of high biodiversity significance, located along the Sesan and Srepok Rivers.

The organisation announced that the project would be implemented until March 2025.

“The project focuses on promoting governance and a co-management model, by increasing community participation in local dialogues and the planning process,” it said.

It aims to increase joint conservation and protection action of aquatic resources, in partnership with local authorities.

“It will also focus on strengthening the leadership, coordination, knowledge sharing, and relationship building of local community fishery committees,” it added.

Ratanakkiri provincial governor Nhem Sam Oeun could not be reached for comment.

Ouk Vibol, director of the Fisheries Conservation Department of the Fisheries Administration, said on April 30 that conservation of the upper areas of the Mekong River was a high priority.

“These areas are the breeding grounds for much of the Kingdom’s fishery stock. This includes the deep pools of the Mekong, as well as those of the Sesan, Srepok and Sekong rivers,” he explained.

He acknowledged the important contribution of the Oxfam project, but asked that it be implemented long-term, as this was the best way to guarantee its effectiveness.

“The areas they have selected are priority locations, and it is excellent that they intend to include the direct participation of local communities,” he said.

He noted that the fisheries of the Sesan and Srepok rivers were smaller than those of the Mekong, and thus attracted more family fishermen, and less commercial activity.