Managing local communities

The need for community management

Smiles from the locals

Local Community at Banjarmasin Indonesia by Jason D’ Great, from

Many of these collection regions in Southeast Asia are managed by the local communities. Hence, it is important to efficiently and effectively manage these local communities. These communities informally develop and enforce their own rules which are mutually agreed upon to solve the problem of overexploitation of the species. For example, the local community in central Sumatra, west and central Kalimantan who earn their livelihood through the trade of Clown Loach. As the demand for this species in the trade is high, many fishermen within the community might be collecting as many as they want in order to gain more individual profits. However, at the given rate, this species will soon extinct if not harvest sustainably. Therefore, it is important for these fishermen in the community to agree to certain rules that will help conserve the Clown Loach population. These rules include the limit that can be caught per fishermen, the size of the fish that can be caught, the specific amount of weeks of the year to collect these fish, the exclusive use of the area by community members and so on. This will be effective in conserving the population of the species either because of mutual observation and social pressure or mutual respect, concern for each other and a sense of obligation to the local community.

Sustainable Harvesting

Small-scale fisheries in Africa, photo by Chris Bene, 2003

Small-scale fisheries, photo by Chris Bene, from

Every year, there are 2 phases that occurs in the wild which are growing and collapse phases. The growing phase is after the breeding stage during the high water season where the juveniles are abundant. In this phase, they are susceptible to both predation and inter- and intra-specific competition. The collapse phase typically takes place during the low water season where many fail to survive due to lack of insufficient water and other resources. This is the best time to harvest as it is easier for the fishermen when the waters are low. As many species of tropical freshwater fish have a lifespan of two to five years or more, fish collected during the collapse phase will not have much impact on the population which also benefits the trade and hobbyists. Sustainable harvesting can be achieved as long as the fisheries of selected species is combined with good harvesting techniques. Also, when decisions need to be made on the issues of sustainable harvesting and the nature of the trade, it is essential to be clinical and management-oriented. This is when the local community develop their own rules of individual behaviour to harvest more sustainably. It is also crucial to note that the trade and conservation of each species are different, therefore conservation and sustainable practices must be customized to solve each problem.