Project Documents






The fish stocks of floodplain river systems support intensive artisanal fisheries in many tropical countries, particularly throughout the densely populated Asian region. However, the ability of these stocks to maintain themselves is threatened by increasing exploitation rates, and highly variable hydrological regimes. Closed areas are commonly used in marine and freshwater fisheries, and are particularly attractive for dispersed artisanal fisheries, but very little is known on their use or effectiveness in river fisheries.

Previous FMSP projects R4791 and R5953 have suggested that reserves may be appropriate for Asian floodplain river fisheries, however further study was required to determine their effectiveness and to provide detailed guidelines on their use. Demand for such outputs had been expressed by communication stakeholders in Indonesia.


This project was designed to investigate the biological benefits achieved from existing reserves, and to determine the social distribution of benefits arising from different management systems. Dependent on the findings, the project then aimed to promote the effective use of reserves in Indonesia as a component of an integrated, adaptive co-management strategy for floodplain river fisheries. Riverine reserves were already widely used in Indonesia, but generally implemented with minimal enforcement or monitoring. Collaborating Fisheries Services intended to develop further reserves, but required guidance on their selection and management.

Working with local fisheries research and management bodies, the project conducted preliminary surveys of all of the existing reserves in three Indonesian study provinces. Detailed biological (fish abundance and stock structure inside and outside reserves) and socio-economic monitoring, and participatory and institutional analyses were then conducted over 13-14 months at selected sites representing a range of ecological conditions and management practices.


The project's biological studies found that fish stocks in community-managed reserves were 5-21 times more abundant, comprised up to 31 more species and were 5-6 times larger by weight, than at a nearby comparison site that was fished with poison in the dry season. Comparing results at different sites, using an interdisciplinary analysis approach, it was concluded that effective enforcement and the placement of reserves in the most suitable water-bodies were more important factors for success than the permanence of reserve closures.

The project produced guidelines for the selection and management of harvest reserves, within a wider framework emphasising adaptive learning and co-management. The guidelines include a series of key steps that may be followed, while recognising the need for flexibility to allow for different local situations. The guidelines were published in English and Indonesian. Since the project, training presentations for a workshop on the selection and management of harvest reserves and other promotional materials have been developed by project R8486.

Local capacity at the project's case study sites in Indonesia was increased through training and participation in the project. Over the life of the project, key collaborators moved substantially towards a more adaptive and objective-based management approach.