Marine Conservation Cambodia


Cambodian Seahorses

In Depth Coverage

Marine Conservation Cambodia: protecting the Islands environment in Cambodia through Volunteering and Scuba Diving

Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC) is a project that is devoted to protecting and conserving Cambodia’s marine environment and the livelihoods of the island communities that rely on its resources.

MCC has been working with the RFLP/FAO and the Community on the design of a Management Plan for M’Pai Bei Community Fishing Area (CFA) since 2010. The finalization of this document will allow the Community to legally manage and conserve its marine resources according to well-defined regulations. One of the most important parts of this document is related to the creation of a Zoning Plan (or Zonal Management Plan), based on a multiple-use zoning scheme, in order to prevent any resource use conflict, with basic conservation criteria principally emphasizing on fishing and specific gear restriction, protected/conservation zone and sanctuary.

  • Link With Climate Change


    MCC team and volunteers continuously monitor the health of coral reefs around the islands, looking at the effects of coral bleaching on Cambodia’s reefs. We assist local communities to diversify their livelihoods to help anticipate and counteract the impact of climate change on their fisheries resources.

  • Objectives


    Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC) has been working in close collaboration with the Royal Government of Cambodia, the villagers of M‘Pai Bei and with volunteers from all over the world since 2008. This integrated initiative, involving a cooperation between all stakeholders acting within the coastal area, aims to ensure that the marine environment around Koh Rung Samleom is as protected as possible from negative human impacts and provides an area of sustainable fishing and income for the community.

    Our Team has been conducting Seahorse, Benthic and Reef Surveys for over 2 years, led by fully qualified scientists in Biology, Marine Biology, Applied Ecology and Fisheries Science. We are currently working in close collaboration with the Cambodian Fisheries Administration for the creation of the first Cambodian Marine Protected Area (MPA). At the beginning of 2011 our continued efforts over the past two years in Conservation and Research were officially recognized with the signing of a collaboration agreement between the Fisheries Administration Conservation Department (FiACd) and MCC on Conservation and Research. We are at the forefront of Marine Research and Conservation in Cambodia: the work our current interns are doing is changing the tide of destruction around Cambodia's marine environment and assisting local communities in livelihood improvement and management of their own environment.

    MCC has been working on Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) concepts over the last 3 years by cooperating and collaborating with all relevant stakeholders to help combine “bottom-up” and “top-down” processes and by promoting a sustainable development of coastal areas. Our ICM Project is now involved in a wide range of activities such as community-based resource management, pollution and erosion risk assessment, (MSC) monitoring, surveillance and control, fisheries and aquaculture monitoring, tourism development & resource-use conflict resolution, etc.
    ICM and Marine Biodiversity Conservation share the same ultimate end goal – that of healthy, sustained ecosystems- and utilize similar tools such as the creation of MPAs. However, the fields do have differing priorities and focuses that distinguish them. Marine Conservation Cambodia aims to:

    • Promote an effective collaboration and cooperation between both ICM and Conservation approaches: how and what can ICM learn from Biodiversity Conservation? How and what can ICM contribute to Biodiversity Conservation?

    In order to:

    • Protect and conserve coastal and marine ecosystems and help the communities that rely on marine resources achieve livelihood improvement through sustainable development.
  • Work plan


    In order to conserve marine resources on a long-term scale, biodiversity approach and socio-economic approach need to be fully integrated within the creation and management of the MPA/MFMA (Marine Protected Area / Marine Fisheries Management Area) and its associated Zoning Plan. As such, our work plan covers:

    • Conducting marine surveys within the CFA to be able to map the distribution of the main marine habitats
    • Conducting socio-economic and demographic surveys within M’Pei Bai Community (Koh Rong Samloem) and other communities on Koh Rong

    M’Pai Bei Community has already been surveyed by our team in March 2010. However, as the pace of social and economic changes has been incredibly fast during the past few months, we feel the need to update the data. Another survey is ready and will be conducted by the end of March 2011.
    The FiACD’s limited budget has so far allowed collecting data on one local community only: Prek Svay (Koh Rong). It is essential that we collect all necessary information on the communities that will be directly affected by the creation of the MPA/MFMA and Zoning Plan, that is to say the communities residing on Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem. As for today, two communities are left to be surveyed namely Koh Toch and Daem Thkov, both located on Koh Rong.

    Once the marine surveys and socio-economic and demographic surveys are completed, we will be able to:

    • Define an optimal location for the future MPA/MFMA
    • Define an appropriate Zoning Plan and its related fishing regulations, in consultation with local communities
  • Schedule


    Marine Surveys:

    • Our team has just finished surveying the 40+ points requested by the FiACD (see figure below). Survey details and final report will be completed by the end of March 2011.
    • Mapping of the main marine habitats: will hopefully be completed as soon as possible, depending on available equipment and base material. So far, we have been using Google Earth, which is useful and simple to use but will not be accurate and professional enough for the finalization of our work.

    Socio-economic and demographic surveys:

    • M’Pai Bei Community, Koh Rong Samloem: survey already available (March 2010). An updated survey should be completed by the end of March 2011.
    • Koh Toch and Daem Thkov (Koh Rong): a survey will be conducted in March/April by the FiACD in collaboration with MCC.

    MPA/MFMA design and Zoning Plan design:

    • Our objective would be to complete both designs by July 2011, including proper GIS and mapping work, as requested by the FiACD.
  • Technical and Scientific Approach & Methods Proposed


    Marine surveys:
    Our team currently use a mix of LIT and Reef Check methodology for marine surveys, and we use Project Seahorse methodology on species and abundance for our Seahorse Monitoring Project.

    Socio-economic and demographic surveys:
    We use general ICM guidelines, as well as FAO guidelines and existing work and case studies that we then adapt to the local context. As part of our “Capacity Building” output, surveys are conducted along with 1 or 2 trained members from local communities.

  • Results


    Please see for details of our results.

  • Deliverables


    Data collection and report are shared with our partner organizations and relevant government departments we are collaborating with.

  • Use of Satellite Imagery and GIS Solutions


    Now done with our marine surveys around Koh Rong Samloem, we are ready to map the main marine habitats. Our main issue here is that we have not been able to find a recent, high quality and properly georeferenced base map of the coast of Cambodia that would include the island of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem. We have also been looking at ways to get decent satellite imagery and/or a license for Google Earth Pro but it is very expensive material and we are looking for some other way to access it.

    The other main issue we are facing here, and this is the reason why we have not been able to use any governmental map as base map, is that they are still using the Indian 1960 Datum whereas all of our data are recorded via WGS 84. Actually, Indian 1960 is not even available on the GPS we have got.

    This lack of base material is a real issue as we would like to fully integrated GIS to our project, not only to use it for mapping resources but also to monitor fisheries catches, fish populations and coral health, as well as for some other monitoring projects in Sihanoukville area, in collaboration with Sihanoukville ICM Programme.

    Some of our ICM Project team members have some background in GIS and can use MapInfo or ArcGIS to create simple maps. We are currently looking for a GIS intern to join our team, but this will only be possible once we get enough base material to work with.
    We do have access to Mapinfo software but not to ArcGIS, although we could use the trial version if really needed.

  • Local Actions

    • Monitoring the local reefs and seahorse population
    • Monitoring of Community Protected Fishing Area
    • Development of MPAs in collaboration with National Government (FiACD)
    • Community Education on Marine Conservation, Sustainable fishing and Environmental Awareness
    • Daily English teaching to local children, ongoing creation of a Youth Center and Village Library
    • Referral Health Care and Children’s health program
    • Water & Waste management
    • Capacity Building among local residents and officials
  • Miscellaneous information / interesting details on project


    Please visit our website for more details and on how to get involved:

  • Region Name

    Preah Sihanouk Province, Cambodia
  • Partners involved in project

    • Cambodian Fisheries Administration
    • UN/FAO (Regional Fisheries Livelihoods Programme - RFLP - for South and Southeast Asia)
    • Sihanoukville ICM Programme
    • Project Abroad