Project Documents





Project Dates

01/10/2000 - 10/06/2020


Self-recruiting species (SRS) are those that can be harvested sustainably from farmer-managed systems without regular stocking. They are critical for poor people, particularly during the dry season when access to other waterbodies becomes limited. Systems based on a combination of natural recruitment and stocking, such as mixed SRS and stocked aquaculture, are becoming increasingly important in inland waters.

Several studies have indicated the importance of SRS to rural households in the Mekong region. However, these resource systems at the interface of aquaculture and capture fisheries have received little attention in research, extension and policy.


The project, funded jointly by FMSP and the Aquaculture and Fish Genetics Research Programme (AGFRP), aimed to document the extent and role of SRS systems in livelihoods, to analyse their ecology, and to identify management strategies to maintain or improve productivity of, and access to such resources. Ten partner institutions participated in a range of theoretical studies combined with field-based activities conducted within rice-farming systems in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and India.

Field-based activities were used to assess the ecology and role of SRS in livelihoods, and to assess experimentally potential measures for improving productivity of and access to SRS. Such activities included participatory rural appraisals, household and baseline surveys, local resource user group trials, ecological and nutritional studies. Theoretical studies, using population ecology models, aimed to improve the scientific basis for management of fisheries based on a mixture of natural recruitment and stocking.


The project successfully identified the socio-economic, technical and environmental factors that determine the role of SRS in farmer-managed aquatic systems. It developed a conceptual framework to aid classification and understanding of SRS systems. For each study country, the project developed lists of species popular with poor producers and consumers, which can inform further work on the development of species for poverty-focused aquaculture.

Through the field-based activities, the project identified the importance to livelihoods of SRS produced in aquaculture systems. The project found that SRS are most important in upland areas, where other waterbodies are limited. Not just fish species were considered important: frogs, snails, crabs and shrimps are also valued. Including SRS in a system was found not to negatively affect the production of stocked fish.

The project identified effective management strategies to enhance the production of, and access to such resources for the poor. Local resource group management of SRS can be effective in raising benefits to individual farmers from their SRS-based aquatic systems.

Results were disseminated, and management and policy recommendations promoted widely. A follow-on dissemination phase has been funded by AFGRP to ensure wider awareness across the region of the potential role of SRS.