The Karen people have a cultural reputation for environmental conservation, taking only what they need for today and for considering the future of their resources. This applies to both farming practices and wildlife. Approximately 20 years ago some forward-thinking people – NGO’s, churches and village elders – introduced the concept of Village “Protection Zones” into Karen-populated areas of Mae Hong Son province.
Since then, many Karen riverside villages have put in place 2 – 5 km zones alongside their villages. No fish may be taken and killed from these zones, and the rules are strictly enforced! As a consequence of this, fish stocks in these zones have expanded dramatically. These heavily populated zones not only provide a safe haven, they serve as a biomass reservoir. This perpetually re-stocks upstream and downstream sections of the river and stream systems.
A fundamental problem for many villages in remote valleys is lack of consistent cash income. In many places, people may earn as little as 3000 baht (<US$100) per year in real money. Place this in the context of being 150kms from a hospital, in areas where malaria, dengue fever and typhoid are endemic… Living without electricity, with no telephone coverage, and with roads impassable for months during the Wet Season…
These heavily-stocked Protection Zones offer a chance for poor villages to generate some “hard to come by” eco-tourism dollars… The eco-tourism proposal we made to remote communities incorporates an undertaking to pay generously for access to these protection zones, on the condition that we operate Fly Fishing Only, Catch & Release trips.
Karen assistants in traditional dress, with fishing guide Bobby Kaotokol
NG River Guides guarantee that we will:
- Pay each Karen village community directly for the privilege of access to their unique fishery.
- Pay a daily fishing fee per person varying from US$15 to US$25 depending on the zone size.
- At least 1 Karen villager is employed to assist at each village… approx $10 per day.
In any given day, you will usually get to fish two or more Protection Zones, and those fees add up over a couple of days fly fishing.
The NG River Guides mission is to ensure that a demonstrably fair and generous proportion of our revenue goes directly to the villages that support us.
The “Fly Fishing Only, Catch & Release” concept has found favour here, and your support of our guiding services makes a valuable contribution to conservation of the unique fisheries resource that we are blessed with.
That provides an opportunity to generate some income in a sustainable manner for each village in the program. In addition we employ as many local staff as possible on a daily basis, at double the Thailand minimum wage. All in all, its a “win win” situation for everyone, villages and anglers included!