A field study has been conducted in Hin Herb District from December 9, 2011 to Sunday December 11 and in Sangthong District, from December 12 to December 15, 2011. A pre-designed census form was used during interviews with fisher farmers. In order to keep the interview as lively as possible, the census forms contained mostly tables that could be easily ticked when topics of interest were raised. Some answers required quick numerical answers whereas some topics required quick written explanations. Plenty of free space was left open on each page to take notes on related topics.
The time spent during interviews sometimes exceeded one and a half hours. All interviews were provided in the Lao language, but recorded in English and the Lao language. Senior village officials were asked to nominate up to six or seven experienced fishers to take part in the interviews. In addition to conducting interviews, DPO staff at Hin Herb and Sangthong Districts also guided the study team to important large permanent water bodies, back swamps and other places of interest such as major Nam Ton tributaries. All the villages where interviews took place were only selected after close consultation with District Project Offices (DPO). Their local familiarity with geography and general expertise were invaluable with this process.
The topics used for discussion focused on five main types of aqua ecosystem found within the Nam Ton Project Area (NTPA). These were:
- The Nam Ton mainstream and its tributaries
- Permanent and perennial water bodies
- Seasonal water bodies (village back-swamps)
- Small water bodies
- Rain-fed and irrigated lowland rice-field capture and culture fisheries.