The pressure on reservoir fish resources in Savannakhet Province has been increasing rapidly, due to the demand for fish protein by a growing rural population and exploitation of resources to provide village and household income. In response to the perceived problems of overexploitation and habitat degradation, a number of initiatives, including community-based management, have been promoted by the Lao Government and by NGOs. However little is known about the fisheries in the floodplain areas that can inform these initiatives and ensure successful outcomes that meet the needs of the rural population as well as the government and other external agents.


The project studied the fisheries in reservoirs, particularly the widely distributed small waterbodies, within the lowland areas of southern Lao PDR where stock enhancement and community based management of small waterbody fisheries are actively promoted by the provincial government, and are spreading rapidly.

The project was designed to evaluate the effects of active management through stocking and the regulation of exploitation on fish stocks, yields and benefits from the fisheries. The principal means of regulating exploitation in the project area was through community based management where management was undertaken by a village or where the waterbody was rented out of to private parties. In order to achieve this, the fisheries, and their benefits, were analysed in ecological/technical, socio-economic and institutional terms, providing important insights into the dynamics of the fisheries and generating vital lessons regarding the understanding of fisheries and enhancement initiatives.


The close integration of technical, socio-economic and institutional analysis in the project has led to significant advances in the understanding of enhancement fisheries systems. The majority of enhancement interventions have focussed on the biological and technical aspects of the resource system and how enhancements could lead to benefits based on these. However, this does not account for how socio-economic and institutional factors can affect outcomes, both directly and, through their effects on the biological and technical aspects as a result of the intervention, indirectly. These were highlighted through this research.

The results of this project have informed future FMSP projects (including R7335, R8292 and R8470) and highlighted more widely the need for a broader understanding of the resource system and its dynamics when planning management interventions.

A first publication summarizing this integrated approach, with particular reference to the predictability of enhancement outcomes, has been presented at the FAO/DFID Expert Consultation on Inland Fisheries Enhancements in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

A review on the population biology of tilapia, the main species used in stocking enhancement in Savannakhet, was started as an internal project report but has now been developed into a book chapter.