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Mekong hydro power dams 'threaten fishery' March 06,2012   |  Source: AFP

Plans to build hydropower plants along South-East Asia's longest river could have devastating effects on the world's largest inland fishery and should be reconsidered, scientists say.

Plenty of attention has focused on plans to develop dams along the main stem of the 4600km Mekong River which passes through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

But the international study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined the impact of building dams on dozens of the smaller branches, known as tributaries.

Since the area is home to many species of migratory fish, the analysis found that several dam projects could block fish from swimming upstream and cause massive losses to diversity and fish supply.

This could have devastating effects on the tens of millions of rural, poor residents in the region who depend on subsistence fishing for their main source of food, said scientists from Cambodia's Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute and Stanford and Princeton University.

More than one million tonnes of freshwater fish are caught each year in the Cambodian and Vietnamese floodplains, and the entire Mekong River Basin is home to 65 million people, about two-thirds of whom rely on fishing to survive.

"We find that the

 

© The Australian

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