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Livelihood features of small scale fishing communities : A case from Singkarak Lake, west Sumatra Indonesia

Yuerlita, Perret S.. 2010. International Journal of Environmental and Rural Development, 1 (2) : p. 94-101.

While millions of poor still depend on small scale freshwater fisheries to earn a meager leaving, the sector shows overall decline in catches over recent years throughout South East Asia. Among few other causes, overfishing is often pointed out as a main issue. Little research is done regarding the socio-economic and technical diversity among the fishing communities, being both the victims of the problem and its possible cause. This research aims to characterize fishing communities in Singkarak Lake (West Sumatra, Indonesia) by exploring their socio-economic and fishing characteristics and also identifying the problems, constraints confronted by those communities as the entry point for policy formulation in an effort to support small-scale fishermen and to address fisheries related problem appropriately. Results show that fishing communities in Singkarak Lake have high level of homogeneity in terms of their fishing activities which represents the highest in cash households' income, but extreme diversity in portfolio of livelihood activities. Combination of fishing and farming widely practiced by fishers in addition to other income supplements either seasonal or permanent. Income generating activities employed by the fishers become more diverse in conjunction to the decrease of fish production and some other factors such as degraded environmental condition, construction of Hydro Electric Power Plant (HEPP) and fishing practiced itself. Fishing labor productivity is found to be lower than construction works and nearly same as farming labor productivity. However, fishers keep fishing because it can secure their daily food needs. The choice of diversification strategies is also based on the assets owned by the households and on higher labor productivity offered by alternative activities out of fishing.

Mots-clés : pêches; pêcheur; petite exploitation agricole; communauté rurale; lac; système d'exploitation agricole; utilisation des terres; agropisciculture; production; sociologie rurale; sumatra

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