Fisheries Country Profile: Lao PDR

Lao PDR is a mountainous land-locked country in the heart of Southeast Asia with an area of 236,800 km2. The country is bordered by five countries: China and Myanmar in the north, Cambodia in the south, Viet Nam in the east, and Thailand in the west.

Fisheries play an important role in rural livelihoods in all the regions of Lao PDR. Fishing activities are carried out as part of a diverse rural livelihood, ranked as the second or third most important activity after rice farming and animal husbandry. In 2021, the fish available for consumption was 33 kg/capita. The Department of Livestock and Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is the responsible agency for fisheries development and management in the country.

The inland fisheries in Lao PDR include capture fisheries and aquaculture. The capture fisheries utilize various water bodies such as the Mekong River and its tributaries, large hydropower reservoirs, natural ponds, lakes, small wetlands, irrigation reservoirs, weirs, large areas of wet season rice fields, and seasonal Mekong flood plains. Moreover, aquaculture takes place in the central plains and highlands and provides fish during the dry season allowing farmers to benefit from a good price for what is often a relatively low-quality product. In terms of production, the total fisheries production of Lao PDR is constantly increasing except for a slight decrease in 2018.

Total fishery production of Cambodia by quantity (MT)

2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
Total 200,021 183,900 179,100 180,777 166,880 158,600
Capture Fisheries 70,001 70,900 70,900 70,900 70,915 62,635
Marine Capture
Inland Capture 70,001 70,900 70,900 70,900 70,915 62,635
Aquaculture 130,020 113,000 108,200 109,877 95,965 95,965

Source: Fishery Statistical Bulletin of Southeast Asia 2020

Total fishery products of Cambodia by value (US$ 1,000)

Year Export Import
Quantity (MT) Value (US$ 1,000) Quantity (MT) Value (US$ 1,000)
2020 19 44 8,991 13,814
2019 0.4 1 5,878 10,208
2018 6 22 5,465 7,655
2017 9 45 5,297 7,846
2016 16 73 570 2,042
2015 52 138 804 3,811

Source: FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Information and Statistics Service