Sustainable aquaculture and aquatic resources management

Culture-based fisheries development in Lao PDR

Fish market, Lao PDR


The primary objective of the project is to develop applied production models to optimise yields from culture based fisheries practices in flood plain depressions and reservoir coves. The project will be implemented through village community participation in two provinces of Lao PDR from 2007-2009. The findings will be disseminated to other suitable provinces, thereby augmenting the current food fish availability, particularly in the lean period of the capture fisheries (March to August), and raising the income of village communities.


This R & D project builds on the success of previous successful ACIAR funded projects on the development of culture-based fisheries in Sri Lanka and Vietnam, making use of existing water bodies, often non-perennial, through a community management system to augment food fish production. The Government of Lao PDR is endeavouring to increase the fish consumption to 23 kg caput year by year 2010. The gap between supply and demand must be met with from aquaculture related developments, which are still in their infancy and currently account for less than 250 t per year. In this regard it has been recognized that substantial increases in fish production could be obtained through effective and optimal utilisation of seasonal water bodies such as flood plain depressions and reservoir coves for CBF, a practice that requires little or no capital inputs and harnesses natural productivity of these water bodies for augmenting fish production. The practice also is environmentally non-perturbing, compared to conventional aquaculture.


  • The envisaged developments and popularisation of CBF practices will call for improvements in seed availability. The project will improve seed production capabilities in Laotian hatcheries, and work pertaining to this aspect will be based on selected species that are currently produced in hatcheries and are preferred by farming communities, cyprinids such as java barb, mud carp, small scale river carp, black shark minnow, broad head catfish and Bocourt's catfish.
  • Development of best practice approaches and production models for CBF in Lao PDR that will optimise the yields and economic benefits to the village communities. The project will provide information on the optimal stocking densities, size at stocking, species combinations and ratios and most beneficial harvesting size. It will also provide information in respect of water quality parameters and their relationship(s) to yield, which could be utilised in the extension of the practices to determine the most suited water bodies in the extension phases.
  • Development of optimal protocols for hypophysation, seed production and broodstock management and seed dissemination plans that will also ensure minimal negative impacts on biodiversity of the corresponding wild populations, in the long-term. The capacity built in the latter aspects will enable Laotian researchers to extend the developed broodstock management plans for other species, and thereby bring about harmony between biodiversity and sustainable aquaculture.
  • Culture-based fisheries developments will be disseminated through community workshops and relevant extension material and through the local media. These will impact the village communities directly through the economic gains and also increase their fish intake. As culture-based fisheries practices are a communal activity it will also generate further synergies within each village community that will hold in good stead for the community at large.


  • An inaugural workshop was held in July 2007 in Thalat, Vientiane Province with the participation of all Department of Livestock and Fisheries and Provincial/District Personnel of the project. DoLF personnel were training in data collection for the project and lead researchers who will take part in proposed training in artificial propagation in Australia and genetic analysis in Kasetsart University were identified.
  • Personnel from NACA and the Department of Primary Industries Victoria visited prospective project sites in Bolikhamxay Province and Vientiane Province to meet with community leaders and discuss the project inputs and expected outcomes from their involvements in each of the site trials.
  • A sampling programme for the collection of wild material for genetic analysis has been developed in collaboration with WWF.
  • The book Better Practice Approaches for Culture-based Fisheries Development in Asia has been translated into Lao language and is available for free download. Hard copies are also available (contact the Secretariat).
  • The first growth cycle trials were completed in May-June 2008. Although harvesting was restricted by early rains, the results were very encouraging. Participating communities have formed collaborative fisher groups to manage the culture-based fisheries activities. The first harvests have been successful and communities have generated good profits, some of which has been set aside to fund the next crop. Some communities have used part of their profits to improve local schools, temples, power supplies and other shared infrastructure. The eleven participating communities have all been contacted by neighbouring villages who have expressed interest in starting up their own culture-based fisheries activities.

Collaborating Agencies

The project, a result of a direct appeal from the Government of Lao PDR to the ACIAR, will bring about collaboration amongst six institutions, two each in Australia, Lao PDR and Thailand:

Funding Agency

The project is funded by an AUD$ 398,000 grant from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).


Mr Bounthong Saphakdy
Head, Technical Division
Department of Livestock and Fisheries
PO Box 811, Vientiane, Lao PDR
Phone: +856 21 416932
Fax: +856 21 415674
Email: saphakdy 'at'


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