Table 1. Stresses and shocks found in the two fishing communities. The items at the top of the table are predominantly stresses, integrating into items at the bottom of the table that are predominantly shocks.

Item
Explanation, including observed response (if any) to stress or shock
Reduced access to common fishing grounds
With decreasing access to fishing grounds, conflicts have arisen in the past decade. Fishers protested, and in 2001, areas in the Tonle Sap were designated for community fisheries management. At the same time, a community fisheries unit was created in the Department of Fisheries. Decentralization programs, community-based management initiatives, and new legislation are policy responses meant to support the “local.”
Declining resources (fish and forest)
Progressive decline in wildlife and fish populations, along with habitat degradation. Overharvesting, inappropriate “quick-catch” fishing gear. Limited enforcement of existing laws.
Loss of fishing gear
Stolen or destroyed fishing gear (traps and gill nets) presents a challenge for households (i.e., to pay off debt). Fisheries organizations grapple with this issue. Local authorities (police, commune council, technical staff) are hesitant to take this on.
Being at the mercy of markets
Market demands and fluctuating commodity prices; boom-bust marketing cycles. No one to buy a product (sell-while-you-can mentality). Fishers rely on layers of middlepersons to sell resources.
Chronic poor health
A challenge if a main household income generator has “little energy.” In 2002, nearly all households claimed that someone within their household was ill.
Threat of violence during elections
Especially for those households that are politically engaged. Belonging to the opposition party may result in social exclusion, sometimes forcing households to switch their allegiances. General nervousness during any election period (uncertainty).
Forest fire in flooded forest: July 2003, Kompong Phluk
62 ha burned near Kompong Phluk; took 1 week to douse. Elders directed the situation. Triggered an active fire prevention campaign.
Thai border closing: Jan 2003, Koh Sralao
Limited supplies in Koh Sralao for 1 month; fish products fetched ½ the normal market value and gasoline prices rose.
Charcoal ban: 1999, Koh Sralao
Forced more people into crab fishing or to leave the area. This shifted pressure from one resource (mangrove degradation for charcoal) to another (the fishery).
Khmer Rouge, 1975–1979
Left a generation suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Trust within communities may be limited.