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Life, Fish and Mangroves

Life, Fish and Mangroves: Resource Governance in Coastal Cambodia

Melissa Marschke
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vkc9f
  • Book Info
    Life, Fish and Mangroves
    Book Description:

    InLife, Fish and Mangroves, Melissa Marschke explores the potential of resource governance, offering a case study of resource-dependent village life. Following six households and one village-based institution in coastal Cambodia over a twelve-year period, Marschke reveals the opportunities and constraints facing villagers and illustrates why local resource management practices remain delicate, even with a sustained effort. She highlights how government and business interests in community-based management and resource exploitation combine to produce a complex, highly uncertain dynamic. With this instructive study, she demonstrates that in spite of a significant effort, spanning many years and engaging many players, resource governance remains fragile and coastal livelihoods in Cambodia remain precarious.

    eISBN: 978-0-7766-1986-6
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Prologue
    (pp. ix-xii)
    M. Marschke

    I first visited Koh Sralao village in June 1998. The area surrounding the village had recently (1996) obtained Ramsar site status because of the health and abundance of mangrove trees in this part of the Gulf of Thailand. Being Canadian and new to mangrove ecology, I was awestruck as we boated through the extensive stands of mangroves. Birds flew through the trees, monkeys swung between branches, and I saw expanses of white sand in places. The landscape was truly magnificent. I could see why people were migrating from other parts of Cambodia to live in this resource-rich area.

    Six weeks...

  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Wayne Som Sak’s reflection upon his livelihood speaks volumes about the changes taking place in the Cambodian countryside. Wayne lives in a mangrove-estuary village surrounded by trees, water and fish. For many years Wayne has been able to make his living from the natural resources found in this area, through selling fish—caught in various ways—and by producing charcoal, among other things. At a certain point, perhaps a decade ago, Wayne became involved in resource management and other village work and diversified into nonfishing activities. Wayne’s comment about it being “hard” to protect natural resources hints at the tension...

  7. I Desiring Local Resource Governance
    (pp. 13-38)

    Twenty years of war excluded Cambodia’s natural resources—forests, coastal and inland fisheries, waterways and minerals—from the acute resource depletion associated with agricultural expansion and economic growth throughout much of Southeast Asia in the 1970s and 1980s (Le Billon 2000). Cambodia was subject to major bombing during the Vietnam War (1959–1975), experienced the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime (1975–1979) that left an estimated one million Cambodians dead, followed by the Vietnamese liberation from the Khmer Rouge in 1979 and a subsequent trade embargo enforced by the West (1980s). These events helped to ensure that Cambodia’s natural resources remained...

  8. II Governing a Coveted Resource
    (pp. 39-56)

    Fisheries resources contribute significantly toward nutrition, livelihoods and GDP in Cambodia. At the same time, most of the near-shore fisheries are overfished (Pomeroy et al. 2007), both in coastal areas within the Gulf of Thailand (Salayo et al. 2008) and within freshwater areas such as the Tonle Sap lake. These declines have profound implications for tens of thousands of Cambodian households, particularly poorer households, in terms of livelihood opportunities and poverty alleviation. Fisheries governance in this situation is necessary, yet challenging to implement. Policy-makers are aware of persistent fisheries declines, although narratives around the role of small-scale fisheries in terms...

  9. III Life in a Resource-Dependent Village, 1998–2010
    (pp. 57-78)

    Multiple factors have affected Mat Sok’s livelihood situation: enforcing government policies such as the government crackdown on growing marijuana, declining fish stocks, limited educational opportunities in the village and a general lack of money. The above excerpts illustrate the ongoing challenges that this fishing household deals with. Sok considers his household to be economically poor, although he feels that it is tight-knit and well supported within the Muslim community (around ten percent of all households in Koh Sralao are Muslim; the rest are Buddhist) and within the village more generally. Several times when Sok’s fishing gear has been stolen, for...

  10. IV Villagers Pursuing Local Resource Governance, 1998–2010
    (pp. 79-106)

    Cambodia’s emphasis on local governance can be seen as a timely embodiment of the global trend encouraging decentralized resource governance, as a donor and government response to the poverty and marginalization found in many rural areas, or as a foolhardy idea with little chance of success given the reality of rural livelihoods in resource-dependent villages. Nonetheless, hopes became somehow pinned on novel governance arrangements that involve local people living closest to a given resource. When resource governance experiments first began in Cambodia in the 1990s, the focus was on the most pressing resource issues (i.e., land encroachment, logging, aquatic stock...

  11. V Resource Governance across Administrative Units
    (pp. 107-130)

    This type of governance challenge, where one fisher or boat driver inadvertently ruins the fishing gear of a fisher, is not easy to solve. Initially (in 2004) Sok thought that a light would be helpful for night fishing, even though orange-red buoys did indicate where Sok had set his nets. In the initial case, Sok had set his nets at dusk and then proceeded to sleep on his boat as a way to save on fuel costs and to scare off potential thieves. Sok was asleep when he heard a boat driving close to his. According to Sok, the trawl...

  12. VI Probing the Failures
    (pp. 131-144)

    As this quote illustrates, Cambodia continues to be promoted as a frontier to be explored for its potential development. Resource extraction has now been happening for over twenty years, leading to the depletion of Cambodia’s forests, serious overfishing, a surge in land prices and, most recently, an interest in oil, gas and mining (Cox 2010). Extraction activities have shifted from one natural resource to another. For example, with the moratorium on logging in the late 1990s, entrepreneurs began to engage in land speculation, spurred on by road access, economic growth and general political stability. Between 2000 and 2007, Cambodia’s economy...

  13. Conclusion: Resource Governance at the Margins
    (pp. 145-150)

    Policy reforms promoting local resource governance are not working out as envisioned.19Although people do engage in resource governance in creative ways, there are many failures along the road. The broad appeal of local resource governance may, in part, explain why it is so difficult to enact. Government actors, as an example, support resource governance for multiple reasons including to promote roll-out, neo-liberal policies (McCarthy 2005), to work toward greater political consolidation (Hughes 2009) or to support community involvement in resource management (Ostrom 2009). Since these actors are likely to advance diverse aspects of any particular resource governance policy, it...

  14. Academic Acknowledgements
    (pp. 151-152)
  15. References
    (pp. 153-164)
  16. Index
    (pp. 165-179)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 180-181)