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Issue No:80
  • :0973–1121
  • :December
  • :2018

Samudra Report No.80, December 2018

Cambodia / Fishery Rights

From Individual Rights to Community Commons

Cambodia’s community fisheries initiative is the most extensive and well-developed system of community fisheries in the world


This article is by John Kurien (kurien.john@gmail.com), Honorary Fellow, WorldFish Centre, Malaysia and FAO/UN Consultant for Community Fisheries in Cambodia


The current fishery rights system in Cambodia is the most extensive and well-developed system of community fisheries in the world”, said the European Union (EU) Representative to Cambodia at the FAO/UN User Rights 2015 Conference held in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Defining tenurial boundaries and proving rights in an aquatic milieu is a daunting task. This is further confounded when dealing with a dynamic land-water interface marked by significant seasonal fluctuations. Yet, taking advantage of its overriding tenure over all such terrains, the state reserves the right of granting tenure with differential bundles of rights to individuals or riparian communities to access and manage such fuzzy interfaces.

In Cambodia, the tenure rights were initially given to individuals. This system held for many centuries. But in 2000, a bold initiative in Cambodia became a trail-blazer when individual rights were replaced with...

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