Alternative Livelihoods

Marine Conservation Cambodia is actively working on providing alternative livelihood solutions for local communities, due to the decline in the overall fisheries resources, it is essential that alternatives to Illegal and destructive fishing are found.

By looking at socio-demographic and our marine data, we can begin to identify possible solutions for livelihood improvement and alternative livelihoods.

Restoring the shellfish reefs

Shellfish reefs are invaluable for the vulnerable Cambodian marine environment. By restoring the reefs, MCC not only protects biodiversity, but also the small-scale fishing communities who can learn to sustainably harvest the resources they provide.

Shellfish, or bivalves, sometimes grow in large numbers. They form reefs and beds at those hot spots. Shellfish reefs protect the coastline, cycle the nutrients and filter the water. And most importantly, they provide habitat and food for other organisms.

Shellfish reefs were once abundant in the oceans, but coastal development, overharvesting and invasive species have led to dramatic decline.


we have already lost 85% of our oyster reefs.

It is no different in Cambodia, where unsustainable harvesting and fishing methods have destroyed most of our reefs.

Because of the multi-functionality of shellfish reefs, its restoration is a significant step in revitalizing the marine environment.

In MCC’s pilot project, we received initial funding from the International conservation fund of Canada and placed artificial structures within the conservation area of Koh Ach Seh. The marine habitats there consist of shallow fringing reefs, seagrass, sand, shell and mud, with a maximum depth of 4m.

These structures provide substrate for the growth of shellfish like oysters and mussels, making them recover more quickly.

MCC has identified two key species for habitat restoration and potential commercialization: Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) and Asian green mussel (Perna viridis).

In particular, the Pacific oyster is a globally popular choice for aquaculture because of rapid growth and high tolerance to environmental stresses.

From conservation to mariculture

Since MCC’s conservation and restoration efforts have lowered the intensity of illegal and destructive fishing techniques. Through the deployment of our habitat structures and by working with the local marine law enforcement and local fisheries departments, we have improved fish diversity and abundance increasing overall biomass, as well as the health of the ecosystems in general.

MCC is currently working on a number of marine ranching projects with local communities

combining natural mariculture with a sustainable harvest.

These projects are still in the pilot phase, but are showing great potential to be upscaled to provide alternative sources of income.

From Illegal fishing to Tourism

The possibilities for Tourism take time in areas that have been badly degraded, the ocean needs time to recover for activities like scuba diving to become viable, small snorkelling trips to the local fringing reefs around the islands are already starting and possibilities for marine mammal watching have been identified but strong policies need to be put in place first to protect the Dolphins from any negative impacts.

Mangrove tourism is showing success in Kampot.

MCC is currently working on opportunities for local communities to diversify into marine tourism.