Project Documents





Project Dates

01/02/1999 - 07/05/2020


There is widespread interest in, and promotion of enhanced fisheries in developing countries. However, as with so many natural resource systems, the management of enhanced fisheries must be carefully tailored to local ecological and institutional conditions in order to provide maximum benefits in a sustainable manner. Benefits from enhancements often fall short of their potential or are not sustained because advice on management is either unavailable, or provided in a top-down manner without accounting for the local ecological and institutional conditions which ultimately determine enhancement outcomes.


Adaptive learning approaches, whereby external institutions (governmental and non-governmental research-based organisations) assist experimental learning by resource users, will facilitate the development of locally appropriate enhancements. However, frameworks for implementing these approaches are required.





The project developed a framework for implementing an adaptive learning approach, including criteria to identify priority areas for adaptive learning, and tools to evaluate management experiments. Whilst on-farm experimentation and farmer participatory research are fairly common in (privately owned) agricultural and aquaculture systems, they are rare in common pool resources (CPR) research. Because CPRs are not privately owned and are utilised by numerous stakeholders, whose co-ordination and co-operation is a prerequisite for its success, the project developed ways to integrate the concepts of adaptive management, farmer participatory research, and institutional analysis and design, as appropriate for common pool resources into an overall practical framework.


The approach and framework were developed through theoretical analyses and a case study applied to enhancements in small water body fisheries in Lao P.D.R. This provided a test for the approach and methods developed and provided a worked example for later dissemination and training activities.





An adaptive learning framework, including useful tools for guiding the implementation of an adaptive co-management approach, was developed as a set of accessible guidelines, published in both English and Lao.


Mathematical models were developed to assess experimental options and provide estimates of key biological parameters and processes in enhanced fisheries.



Results from the case study included:

1. A collaborative stocking experiment across 38 villages indicated carp species are a better option for low productivity waterbodies, and tilapia for high.

2. Comparative analysis of management systems found each system had its own opportunities and constraints. Extension advice should therefore be less prescriptive and account for local conditions and objectives.



The capacity of key stakeholders was increased through the approach. Whilst increases in knowledge were due to information gained during the project, skills were improved as a result of the way it was implemented. Adaptive learning approaches therefore have the potential to increase learning and build capacity at the same time.



A quantitative analysis of the benefits of information gain revealed that the approach could generate significant benefits. Post-project evaluations indicated that overall both yields and incomes from the systems have increased.