Inland fisheries livelihoods in Central Asia

FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper 526

Inland fisheries livelihoods in Central Asia
Policy interventions and opportunities


Andy Thorpe
University of Portsmouth
Portsmouth, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Raymon van Anrooy
Fishery Officer
FAO Subregional Office for Central Asia
Ankara, Turkey

Rome, 2009

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© FAO 2009

Thorpe, A.; van Anrooy, R.
Inland fisheries livelihoods in Central Asia: policy interventions and opportunities.
FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper. No. 526. Rome, FAO. 2009. 61p.


This technical paper presents the findings of a study on inland fisheries livelihoods in Central Asia. It discusses current policies and potential livelihood-enhancing policy interventions. The study was conducted in 2008 under a partnership between Portsmouth University, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The paper examines the evolution of the Central Asian fisheries sector, showing how it was one of – if not the most – acutely affected sectors by the deterioration in the economic environment after the collapse of the former Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991. Examples are given of livelihood or coping strategies that have evolved for those persons who currently derive an income from the sector. Three distinct groupings are highlighted in the examples presented: the Kazakh “fisher brigades” based on the North Aral Sea, the “community” fishers of Kyrgyz Republic and the pond culturalists of the Republic of Tajikistan. The livelihood strategies of each group and the particular constraints each group faces are documented. A concluding chapter identifies the prerequisites for more effective livelihood-supporting policy interventions within the fisheries sphere across the Central Asian republics.


Part I  (Download pdf 180 kb)

Preparation of this document
Acronyms and abbreviations

Part II   (Download pdf 507 kb)

1.  Introduction

2.  Poverty, well-being and poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs)
     in the Central Asian republics
3.  The evolution of Central Asia’s inland fisheries
Fisheries in Kazakhstan
Fisheries in Kyrgyzstan
Fisheries in Tajikistan
Fisheries in Turkmenistan
Fisheries in Uzbekistan
Commonalities among fisheries of the Central Asian Region
Reactivation of the fisheries sector
Part III  (Download pdf 459 kb)

4.  Fisher livelihoods and well-being in Central Asia
The “fisher brigades” of the north (little) Aral sea
The “community” fishers of Kyrgyzstan
The “Dekhan pond fishers” of Tajikistan
5.  Conclusions
Increasing government attention to the fisheries sector
A holistic approach to determining livelihood-supporting policy
Actions needed at the regional level
Actions needed at the national level