Fish, fishing and the rural poor. A case study of the household importance of small-scale fisheries in the Lao PDR.
Small-scale fisheries in developing countries are often considered to be of particular importance to poorer groups, with fishing often characterised in the literature as an 'activity of last resort'. Despite this assertion, there are few quantitative studies that compare the role of these fisheries in households from different socioeconomic groups. This is particularly true of many agricultural areas in countries of the Lower Mekong Basin, where fishing is, frequently, one of a range of livelihood activities carried out for either subsistence or income generation. Through a detailed household survey, this study quantifies the importance of small-scale fisheries to households from different socioeconomic groups in Savannakhet Province, Lao PDR. It looks at three potential axes of 'importance': catches from small-scale fisheries; utilisation of fish caught; and reliance on fishing as a means of bringing fish into the household. Results suggest that along all three axes of importance, the role of small-scale fisheries, and fishing, whilst substantial, is not substantially different between the socioeconomic groups. Fishing therefore cannot be described as important only for the 'poorest of the poor', but as an essential component of all these households' livelihoods.
Aquatic Resources, Culture and Development 1(2), pp. 131 - 144