Lao women in fish research

Breaking from traditional roles, Lao women in Donexay village have joined a research effort in the Nam Kading River of central Lao PDR. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Community Fisheries Program officially established Fish Conservation Zones (FCZs) in the Nam Kading in 2004. The women in Donexay village are collecting fisheries data to evaluate the effectiveness of these FCZs. These zones in the Nam Kading River and other “no take zones” are of interest to the Lao government relative to how they support native fish production. The research will help quantify the effectiveness of FCZs, complementing data from local knowledge interviews in support of sustainable management. To conduct the research for this study FISHBIO recommended tagging fish with Floy tags in a collaborative effort with WWF, Department of Livestock and Fisheries, Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office, District Agriculture and Forestry Office, and eight villages along the Nam Kading River.

An exciting part of the fish tagging was not just the number of fish tagged, but the process of learning from people about local knowledge that can be used as a scientific basis for estimating species diversity. Members of Donexay Village Lao Women’s Union and seven other villages were trained and are fully responsible for following up on recapture data. To ensure an effective reporting system, local fishers are returning Floy tags from the recaptured fishes to members of the women’s unions of each village and a small reward is being given to returnees.