Mekong Dams and the lack international management

Do we ever learn from history?

Mekong river and dam locations, National Geographic

Where the rest of the world seeks to take down damns and to help restore fish populations, Laos is building them. The Mekong River is a huge system, utilized by all of the Southeast Asian countries: Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and China. The biodiversity of the Mekong is rich and vast including the Mekong giant catfish, the Irrawaddy Dolphin, and 70 or more other species . There have been issues of over fishing, over population, and now blocking of the Don Sahong channel, for a hydroelectric damn may have devastating impacts on the remaining populations. On top of that the Laotian Government is also allowing the construction of the Xayaburi Dam several hundred miles upstream that blocks the entire river. There are however plans to create passages for fish to move through.

The environmental manager for the Don Sahong Dam project, Peter Hawkins, says that if these passages do not prove to be sufficient they will continue to work on them to create the best bypass possible. Another environmental factor International River brings up is the nutrients lost in blocking the sediment flowing down river, this will most likely impact the rice farmers in a negative way.

Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand are not happy about this situation. In fact Thai villagers that live along the Mekong in Northeast Thailand have brought a lawsuit against the Thai government’s plan to buy up most the power that will be produced by the Xayaburi dam. There have been many protests and inquires for more environmental impact research to be done before construction of these dams. As of now the dams plan for construction are still going ahead even though there are court dates set for the future and outcomes to still be decided.

Khone Falls, on one of the channels of the Mekong in Si Phan Don, is a major tourist attraction – but not so good for fish. Michael Sullivan/NPR

The fish management of the Mekong between these international borders is lacking big time and utilizing the legal system of Thailand may be to best opportunity to help ensure the lives of many species for the future.

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3 thoughts on “Mekong Dams and the lack international management”

  1. You may want to update this and put it into the News with Fins folder so it is easy to find for this weeks homework.

    Great topic by the way. It always seems to me that we can avoid many issues if we would learn from our past experiences. It seems to me that many underdeveloped places always agree that other countries did it when they were trying to develop into a world power. My response to this is that does not make it right. Thank you for the information.

  2. this is a good read . this class has opened my eyes in so many different topics and things that go on around the world and the impact they have on the environment and the animals. it also shows that people are quick to do but not look at the long term damage they might cause.

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