The strategy has been developed on the basis of the Integrated Water Resources Management-based Basin Development Strategy for the Lower Mekong Basin 2016-2020 in close collaboration with the four MRC Member Countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam). The five-year strategy focuses on inland capture fisheries, based on the national management and development policies, strategies and plans of Member Countries.
The Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) has a population of more than 60 million, with projections suggesting this figure could rise to 100 million ten years from now. The basin ecosystem comprises many subsystems, with the Mekong, its tributaries and low-lying habitats like floodplains, wetlands, swamps and the Mekong Delta in Viet Nam playing a prominent role. In spite of progressive urbanisation and emerging secondary and tertiary sectors in the economies of the four riparian countries, the majority of the population depends on this ecosystem for their livelihood – both as a source of income and employment, and for food. All Mekong River Commission (MRC) Member Countries have formulated strategies for fisheries management and development as part of their national development policy frameworks. To some extent, these national strategies, policies and plans cover regional fisheries management issues that need to be aligned with a basinwide fisheries management and development strategy. The MRC Member Countries have acknowledged this and have prioritised the development of a comprehensive ‘Basin-Wide Fisheries Management and Development Strategy’ (BFMS 2018-2022) in the implementation plan of the MRC Fisheries Programme 2011 2015. The formulation of the BFMS 2018-2022 relied on two key strategy elements: (i) communication and mutual understanding between actors and (ii) LMB-wide cooperation for fisheries management and development. The BFMS 2018-2022 was developed by the former MRC Fisheries Programme’s Technical Advisory Body for Fisheries Management in the Lower Mekong Basin, which was established in 2000. The MRC Fisheries Programme facilitated the development process of the BFMS 2018-2022 from late 2012 until the programme was discontinued in December 2015. Under the new MRC structure, the Environmental Management Division of the MRC Secretariat, in cooperation with its Expert Group/Subgroup on Fisheries, is responsible for the BFMS 2018-2022. The BFMS 2018 2022 is, by definition, a regional strategy with a focus on inland capture fisheries. It is based on the national management and development policies, strategies and plans of the MRC Member Countries, which were compiled and reviewed ahead of the formulation of the BFMS 2018-2022. To achieve a regional perspective, issues of regional relevance contained in these policies, strategies and plans were compared with MRC policies, strategic priorities and actions as defined in the updated Basin Development Strategy (BDS).