What’s new at AquaCAM in November

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AquaCAM’s activities were numerous during this period and for all project components.  However, before reviewing these events, it should be noted that thanks to the intercession of the French Embassy in Cambodia, an extraordinary extension until November 2022 have been granted to the project by the donor. This extension will allow for the financing and finalisation of the initiated activities and the new research programme.

Field studies on zoonotic parasites in fish are continuing and this month a sample was taken from fish cages on the Mekong River in Tong Khmum province. Fish from different cages and at different stages of farming were sampled by the AquaCAM team accompanied in the field by members of the FiA provincial office. During the visit, we discussed with the farmers the problems of disease, fry quality and feed prices, which are a real challenge for floating cage culture.

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On 7 November, a scientific workshop was organised to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance in aquatic environments and in particular in aquaculture.

After a brief introduction on the use of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance in aquaculture worldwide, presentations of research work on two sentinel bacteria (A. hydrophila and E. coli) – in two of the most common farmed fishes in Cambodia (pangas and snakehead) – were given by the students involved (from RUA and ITC) in the AquaCAM project. This preliminary work indicates a significant percentage of antibiotic resistance among the bacterial strains isolated. A first scientific article is currently being written.  These results confirm the interest in the study initiated within the framework of AQUACAM and highlight the interest in this research.

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The sustainability of aquaculture is at the heart of the AQUACAM project. In 2021, the research teams have been working on the implementation of a sustainability diagnostic tool adapted to local conditions, allowing to highlight the key points of the sustainability of the aquaculture activity in Cambodia. To progress in the reflection and into the objectives of the project, a workshop was organised on 15 November in Phnom Penh.

The approach applied – Principles, Criteria and Indicators (PCI) – is based on a selection process that nests the principles and criteria of sustainability in aquaculture, and by linking the indicators to the issues and representations of the stakeholders, encourages their appropriation of sustainable development and the indicators produced. It is necessary to take a moment to review the definitions of ICPs

Principles Derived from the Latin “principium”, which means “that which serves as a basis”, it, therefore, has the property of being a founding element, the starting point of a reflection or an action.

Criterion The notion of criterion is by nature quite close to that of principle, but the criteria represent the variables that allow the expression of a principle, to decline it, to specify and qualify it and to break down the principle into several homogeneous elements.

Indicators measure the criteria. It is not perfect as a measure, but it works where measurement is not possible, and it respects the spaces of uncertainty that measurement does not tolerate.

The approach applied in AQUACAM is an iterative one, and various steps of the study allow the selection of principles, criteria and indicators related to the four pillars of sustainability.

The workshop on 15 November aimed to validate the indicators and propose a sustainability scale (Likert scale) for each of them. Members from the AquaCAM consortium, the fisheries administration and NGOs participated in the meeting. After the opening speech and a methodological review, the audience was divided into four groups according to the pillars (environmental, social, economic and governance). Each group worked on the proposed indicators and validated a value scale for each indicator. Nowadays, an evaluation grid is almost finalised and will be tested in real conditions to evaluate the local production chain.

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From 24 to 27 November, a field trip was made to Siem Reap where our partners from APDRA with the NGO TCO http://tco-cambodia.org are working to develop rice-fish farming, within the framework of the Development of Fish Farming (DéFiP) programme, financed mainly by the French Development Agency.

Some investigations and actions are also carried out within the framework of AquaCAM. During this visit, two meetings of rice-fish farmers facilitated by the FiA Cantonment in Siem Reap and TCO took place.

The purpose of these meetings was to highlight the opportunity provided by the integration of fish farming in rice fields and give technical advice to farmers on feeding, water management and fish. The farmers also exchanged their views and experiences in a cordial and friendly atmosphere.