Inland Fisheries

Aquatic biodiversity in rice-based ecosystems. Studies and reports from Cambodia, China, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Viet Nam

Aquatic biodiversity and inland fisheries

Interactive online document: Aquatic resources derived from rice fields and associated environments often contribute a large share of the animal protein and other nutrients intake of poor households, particularly in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, although this dietary contribution is self-evident for those working in the field, the importance of aquatic resources in the food security of rural households is generally underestimated and undervalued because the local consumption or marketing usually prevents this production from entering official national statistics. This information, however, is needed by policy makers when formulating pro-poor policies or making resource allocation decisions. Development plans that ignore agricultural biodiversity and only focus on increasing yields of rice may possibly give the people more rice to eat, but may at the same time take away much of the aquatic animals and plants also harvested from and around the rice fields. Without a sound understanding of the other components of the ricefield ecosystem and careful consideration of suitable extension there is a great risk that the aquatic animal and plant diversity can be severely affected. Importantly, it will be the poorer segments of rural society which will suffer most from the negative impacts of such development.