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Scales and Sales: Changing Social and Spatial Fish Trading Networks in the Siiphandone Fishery, Lao PDR

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The Siiphandone wetland in Khong district, Champasak province, Lao PDR, is one of the most important fisheries in the Mekong River basin. The resource, situated along the Laos-Cambodia border, supports the livelihoods of around 65,000 inhabitants, mainly semi-subsistence rice farmers or fishers. In January 2000, the provincial authority was given a special dispensation by the Lao government to allow the importation of Cambodian fish through Khong district, for export to Thailand. Previously, in large part due to the government's policy of food self-sufficiency, the export of Lao fish was illegal. This paper examines how the implementation of this law has influenced existing legal and illegal trade networks from the Siiphandone fishery by comparing the findings of two studies, one conducted before and the other after the change in the law. In doing so, the transition of the fishery from a local, food-important resource to an increasingly regional, market-oriented resource is examined. Conclusions are drawn as to the impact this change has had on the livelihoods of fishers and traders involved in the fishery.

Keywords: Lao PDR; commodity chain; fish marketing; geopolitics; rural livelihoods

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0129-7619.2004.00171.x

Affiliations: Division of Geography, School of Geosciences, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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