It Takes a Village: Success Stories in Community-Based Conservation

Communities come in many forms, including villages, tribes, or even interest-based groups. One of the basic objectives of community-based conservation (CBC) is to integrate the management of natural resources, while improving the lives of local people. CBC programs can come in a variety of forms, from oversight of illegal harvest to ecotourism, and my even assume the full rights and responsibilities of managing wildlife, fisheries, and land. CBC programs also occur at different spatial scales, including watershed level management plans down to local marine or freshwater protected areas. Some have a high level of stakeholder involvement, while others are run by local villages with no outside involvement or support. This symposium will explore the global success stories about community-based conservation programs both in marine and freshwater systems and will demonstrate how they can be a vital part of the conservation process.

10:10AM Training Villagers to Manage Their Local Fisheries through Community Programs in Bhutan
  Karma Wangchuk, Marlis Douglas, Michael Douglas, Julie Claussen, David Philipp
Bhutan is endowed with rich natural water bodies, which are being used for many developmental purposes such as hydroelectric projects, irrigation, stone and sand quarries, etc. Even though fishing for consumption is not legal in Bhutan, many communities along Bhutan’s rivers have relied on fish for subsistence. Through the development of community fishery programs at select locations, nutritional sources can be secured, and socioeconomic enhancement through sale of fresh fish can be established for riverside villages. By instituting a sustainable mode of fish harvest, coupled with training on the stewardship of river resources, community fishery program can curtail destructive fishing practices to ensure that fish biodiversity is protected. In this way community-based fisheries management programs can bring about immense benefits both in terms of income generation, nutrition, and conservation.
10:30AM Engaging Communities, Protecting Freshwaters: Lessons from Fish Conservation Zones in Laos
  Erin Loury, Shaara Ainsley, Sinsamout Ounboundisane
In the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) in Southeast Asia, the responsibility for fisheries conservation and management largely rests with local communities. The Lao Fisheries Law allows local people to play a leading role in managing their fisheries resources through the formation of village fisheries committees. Fish Conservation Zones (FCZs), or freshwater protected areas that are closed to all fishing, have become a popular tool adopted by these village committees that are governed through a co-management arrangement with local government authorities. While FCZs are relatively small in area, they are numerous; a recent synthesis revealed there are 1,313 FCZs in the country officially recognized by the government. Since 2013, FISHBIO has worked to help establish and support FCZs in the Mekong River in Lao PDR. This talk will discuss lessons learned from community engagement in establishing and enforcing FCZs in Lao PDR, as well as experiences assisting other organizations to establish FCZs in Myanmar. The talk will also introduce a guidebook that FISHBIO developed to help organizations evaluate the effectiveness of FCZs. An important next chapter of FCZ management would be a concerted effort to assess these freshwater protected areas to identify potential improvements and strategies for success.
10:50AM Community-Based Reserves Benefit Fish and Fishers in Southeast Asia’s Salween River Basin
  Aaron Koning, Peter B. McIntyre
Intensive harvest has resulted in significant declines in biodiversity, abundance, and biomass of fisheries worldwide. No-take reserves are critical components of marine ecosystem-based fishery management, yet the translation of spatial protection to freshwater systems has not been fully realized. Throughout Southeast Asia, many communities have adopted a reserve approach to protect fish populations from overharvest of the region’s rich inland waters. Using a network of 23 community-based riverine reserves, we show that spatial protection has profound effects on fish species richness, abundance, and biomass relative to adjacent fished areas. Importantly, well-established principles for marine reserve design predict riverine reserve success across sites, including reserve size, age, and network connectivity. Additionally, we show that maximizing conservation outcomes requires additional integration of the distinct features of dendritic river networks. Finally, the benefits conferred by unique reserve characteristics differ based on fish functional traits in this system, suggesting that networks of reserves having diverse features are necessary to successfully conserve taxonomic and functional diversity in riverine systems. The effectiveness of these small, community-based reserves offers a critical new conservation model for protecting food webs and augmenting fishery yields in biodiverse tropical rivers.
11:10AM Reef to Aquarium: How One Village Is Creating a Sea Change in the Ornamental Fish Trade
  Andrea Reid
Les village is an ornamental fishing community located on the north coast of Bali, Indonesia. The growth of commercial flying in the region in the 1970s coupled with the proliferation of destructive fishing methods such as the application of cyanide in the 1980s has caused the wholesale depletion of many reef fish communities such as those surrounding Les village, and other communities throughout Indonesia and the Philippines. These two archipelagic nations have come to be the world’s largest exporters of ocean fish destined for saltwater aquaria, which are headed primarily to the world’s largest importer of marine aquarium fish – the United States. With support from the National Geographic Society, the cross-disciplinary “Reef to Aquarium” team uncovered the inner-workings of this often murky and misunderstood industry that is valued annually in the hundreds of millions. Along the way, this team learned the story of how Les village and its community members charted a new course for themselves that is characterized by sustainability, social accountability, and spirituality.
11:30AM Mapping out Alaska’s Salmon/People System: Challenges and Opportunities for Change
  Stephanie Quinn-Davdison, Catie Bursch, Matt Rafferty
Alaskans love their salmon, but they also love to fight over their salmon. Salmon are a critical economic driver for the state and are the symbol of who Alaskans are as a people. As Alaska Salmon Fellows working within and discussing the Alaska salmon/people system, we endeavor to find new ways and opportunities to shift the system to be more sustainable and equitable. In other words, we believe that the continuation of salmon runs in perpetuity should be a priority and access to the salmon resource and the decision-making should be equitable. How can we shift the current system of salmon/people in Alaska closer to our goals of sustainability and equity? How can we help the Alaska salmon/people system achieve its maximum potential? To help answer these questions, we hosted a discussion with different groups of the Alaska salmon/people system to better understand what the system looks like, recognizing that different people perceive power and influence in the system uniquely. We used an actor map as a tool to understand the relationships and interactions among the various components of the salmon/people system and identified challenges and opportunities for shifting the system to be more sustainable and equitable.

Organizers: Aaron Koning, Julie Claussen
Supported by: Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future And Fisheries Conservation Foundation

Location: Reno-Sparks CC Date: October 2, 2019 Time: 10:10 am - 11:50 am