This study examines the development of the Community Fisheries Sub-Decree. From its promulgation in late 2000 through its draft form in June 2002, this sub-decree has gone through over 25 drafts. Initially, the writing process involved the public intimately: community meetings were conducted, NGOs contributed their knowledge and expertise, and then, with these consultations in mind, the newly-formed Community Fisheries Development Office (CFDO) in the Department of Fisheries (DoF) drafted the sub-decree.

Over the following year and a half, the sub-decree went through numerous changes, some of which fundamentally alter the tenor of the legislation. This includes the deletion of some of the primary issues of rural communities, such as what fishing gears they can use and whether they can participate in patrolling the fishing area. While the final form is still pending, there are many questions as to the positive effects that the sub-decree will ultimately have on people’s livelihoods when it is finally approved.   This research was undertaken to track the development of the sub-decree to gain a better understanding of how the Cambodian policy-making system functions. Consultations were undertaken with the DoF and CFDO before the research began, both of which agreed to the study. It is hoped that this report will help not only those interested in community fisheries issues, but also those who want to advocate on other Cambodian development issues as well.

Due to the sensitive nature of the subject material, and the fact that the sub-decree is still pending, the author has conducted interviews with the express purpose of keeping them confidential. Therefore, no individual will be quoted directly in this study. In addition, many of the English versions of the drafts examined were unofficial translations. The author has made no effort to correct the English in the drafts. Moreover, there are also questions regarding the drafts and their sequence, as no government records were kept of the process or the changes that were made along the way. These have been compiled after the fact.

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