Eleven planned dams on Mekong to threaten more than half of fish catch

“When you have 11 dams there ain’t a lot left when you get to the bottom,” said Ian Cox, director of the International Fisheries Institute at Britain’s Hull University.

Overfishing is already taking a toll on the Mekong, while Laos plans to borrow heavily to fund nine hydropower dams across the Mekong, and Cambodia plans to construct two. More than half of fish catches could be lost across the region with dams blocking fish migratory paths. Nutrient levels within the water are expected to fall by 50% due to trapped sediment.

Food security is the priority issue dominating the political agenda surrounding the lower Mekong subregion for Vietnam and Cambodia, in stark contrast to thinking in Laos, which sees the Mekong primarily through the lens of hydropower.

Vientiane has upset its neighbors, scientists, environmentalists and downstream fishermen with its extraordinary dam construction program, including the damming of the mainstream of the river threatening about 50 percent of the area’s freshwater fish stocks.

The food security threat and complaints of smaller fish catches have forced downstream governments and companies to start focusing on aquaculture.

That led Hung Vuong Corp to announce in late January that it would be buying a 51 percent stake in RKK Holding, a Vietnamese-Russian joint venture, for $15 million.

Under the reported deal, Russian Aquaculture Company will sell its distribution arm, which accounts for 5 percent of the Russian fish market, to RKK which is hoping to improve the company’s flagging striped catfish exports with the acquisition.

Read more …

What a new Vietnam-Russian deal says about the Mekong’s future, The Diplomat, Feb 13, 2016

Mekong River Commission faces radical change, … donors have dropped their funding, The Diplomat, Jan 22, 2016

 

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