Priority Work Happening Now
In September 2017 MCC initiated Cambodia’s first long term study investigating coastal cetacean species.
The project is combining boat and land surveys with photo-identification techniques to investigate abundance, distribution and residency patters for cetacean species encountered in Cambodia’s Kep Archipelago, namely the Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) and Indo-Pacific Finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides). Gathered data will be used to identify critical habitats for feeding, socializing and resting for each species, with this information ultimately being used towards the establishment of informed cetacean management strategies.
If you are interested in joining our dolphin research team, please apply through the application form in the ‘contact us’ section.
We are just beginning a whole new stage in the development of our conservation efforts in Kep province. Our MFMA (Marine Fisheries Management Area) zoning proposal has been accepted and over the next few months we will be adapting finalizing our current management plan, this includes registration of fishers, catch monitoring, demarcation, quotas on size and sexual maturity, and a full MCS program to deter and stop any IUU activities with in the proposed zones.
We need Volunteers with Experience or Interest in MPA or fisheries resource management right now.
Volunteers with Experience or Interest in IUU (Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported) fishing and MCS (Monitoring Control and Surveillance).
We are currently working on many reports directly relating to these current issues.
This is a great opportunity to be directly involved in on the ground activities, our work makes a direct impact. And the work you would be contributing to, is history in the making, after our work on Cambodia's first ever MFMA, this will be the second, the management of this smaller area will be faster and easier to implement and also allows us more freedom to think outside the basic management structures and trial a series of restoration projects.
MFMA Demarcation and Habitat Restoration
Many studies indicate that Commercial and Non Commercial marine species can be increased significantly with the introduction of fish aggregation devices, artificial reefs, and Oyster and Mussel reefs/beds. A large scale project to reestablish and increase the quantity of Oyster and Mussel reefs/beds in Kep province will significantly benefit local communities by providing natural aquaculture opportunities for harvest. In turn, these reef systems will provide habitat and food sources resulting in an increase in commercially fished marine species and biodiversity, thereby providing increased livelihoods for small scale local fishers, and possible alternative livelihoods for local IUU fishers. Additionally, restored and enhanced Mussel and Oyster reefs will allow for potential private sector opportunities for commercial aquaculture, such as pearl and seaweed farms etc. These opportunities will be integrated into zoning and management schemes created during the implementation of this project, which will support existing coastal management plans. See more here.
Right now we are in the process of some ground breaking Seahorse Research.
This is happening right now, together with Dr. Tse-Lynn Loh and Lindsay Aylesworth from Project Seahorse and Shedd Aquarium, we are working on a large project to assess not only the seahorse populations around Kep but also look at how Seahorse data is collected and running tests on occupancy and sightings within different habitats and how different levels of experience within research teams effects data collection, this is very exciting and ground breaking work which has never been done before. Over the next few months we have a lot of data to collect from 3 main marine habitats, Seagrass, Benthic Shell cover, and Mud sites, on top of this we have 3 sites for each Habitat, Protected, Semi Protected and Not Protected. We are also currently working on a Tagging program looking at 2 study sites with around 10-15 resident seahorses.
Our Seahorse Research has been featured in National Geographic you can read the article here
An National news article about the beginning of our Tagging work can be found here
For more information on methodology and how to get involved in this research please contact us.
Also right now is our socio-demographic community fishing interviews, covering many aspects of resource management and fisheries research.
Over the past year we have been visiting 4 fisheries communities within Kep Province, each visit we run interviews with local fishermen covering, catch sizes, past and present problems and conflicts, livelihood, aquaculture, conservation of resources and habitats, the questionnaires work not only for us to gather much needed information but also help to highlight areas where we can educate and also our presence helps to empower and give confidence to those fishers who understand the need for conservation and want to get involved, all of this is done in a relaxed setting with the community often at the fishers home. Over the last month we have been interviewing some of the illegal fishers, very interesting as some are ones that recognise us as the people that caught them, and this leads to some very interesting discussions and insightful information, this work is ongoing and the statistical analysis of this data and the write up of the report is ongoing.
For More information on this aspect of our work please contact us.
Artificial Reef and Underwater Gardens
This is a continuous and ongoing project that is both fun and includes longterm research, including pathways that help to stimulate new coral growth, fleshy algae and seagrass beds, this is a real underwater garden that can be studied and enjoyed as an underwater gardener. This is all run with strict guidelines and is showing some great results.
6 Monthly Coral Reef Surveys and House Reef Mapping
Every 6 months we run a series of Marine Reef Surveys covering the Islands of Koh Angkrong, Koh Mak Prang and Koh Seh, These usually take around 3 months to complete and of course are weather and sea condition dependant.
After Matteo's return with an amazing mapping program he designed specifically for the study of our house reef, we can now map 1mx1m across our whole house reef and house seagrass beds, covering an area 150mx300m. With detailed squares showing everything from percentage coral and seagrass cover, to species diversity, this project will take us at least the next year to complete if not longer, and once finished, we have a baseline to start all over again to monitor changes.
Other Research and Potential Projects
These are our current projects which are run daily and have a set timeline to be completed, all of our team are involved in this work and this is where we need volunteers and interns the most, especially the Seahorse and community work. We are not limited to just these activities but it is where we need assistance right now to compete them within our timeframe, We also have 6 monthly Reef surveys and other periodic work that must be completed, and this post will be updated as needed.
We are also looking for people to independently study the wide variety of Seagrasses and Algae's that we have, and also to continue our species database for Kep's ocean.