Freshwater protected areas managed by local communities, known as Fish Conservation Zones, are a widespread strategy for freshwater fisheries management in Southeast Asia, and there is growing interest in learning from this model in other parts of the world. FISHBIO was hired as a consultant for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) in 2019–2020 to develop and design an accessible and informative guidebook describing the creation and management of community-managed FCZs in Southeast Asia. The 150-page guide synthesizes successes, challenges, and key lessons learned from 10 organizations funded by CEPF to establish FCZs with communities in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. To create the guide, FISHBIO reviewed project materials and conducted online and in-person interviews with CEPF grantees and other relevant experts in community-based freshwater protected area management. We also created a 10-minute video to illustrate the key concepts of the fisheries management process for fish conservation zones with the use of photos and animations, and later produced a Spanish language version of the video. 

The resulting knowledge product describes each step of the fisheries management cycle as applied to an FCZ, including: 1) evaluating the fisheries situation, 2) developing FCZ regulations and a management plan, 3) implementing management strategies such as FCZ enforcement, 4) collecting information to assess FCZ effectiveness, 5) evaluating FCZ effectiveness based on assessment results, 6) communicating assessment results, and 7) adjusting management strategies as needed. Detailed case studies are highlighted throughout the guide to illustrate successes, challenges, and lessons learned about FCZ establishment and management. These case studies feature 10 CEPF grantees, including Conservation International, Fisheries Action Coalition Team, Royal University of Phnom Penh, The Learning Institute, and WorldFish in Cambodia; FISHBIO in Lao PDR; Fauna & Flora International and the Wildlife Society/Turtle Survival Alliance in Myanmar; Living River Association in Thailand; and WARECOD in Vietnam.  The guide “Establishing and Managing Freshwater Fish Conservation Zones with Communities” is available on the CEPF website and can also be downloaded below.

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