FISHERIES AND DAM DEVELOPMENT IN THE MEKONG BASIN Science Week, Penang, July 2011
WHY MEKONG FISHERIES? Contribution of fish to food security (FAO 2011) 0% 50% 100% Livestock Fish aquaculture Marine capture fish Inland capture fish Lao PDR Thailand Cambodia Vietnam 55% 12% % 5% 2% 6% 34% 10% 28% %
WHY DAMS? 16 dams on tribu-taries 47 dams for sure Probably 77 dams on tributaries + 0 to 11 mainstream dams (MD) in the Lower Mekong Basin Baseline No LMB ms dams 6 MD upstream of Vientiane 9 MD in Cambodia) 11 MD 16 Definite future 47 77 83 86 88 2000 2015 2030 (none 7C + 70t 7C + 40t Source: MRC BDP2, July 2010
FISH VS. DAMS At least 35% of the 2.1 million tonnes of fish harvested in the Mekong is comprised of long-distance migratory fish (“white fishes”) whose migrations would be barred by dams. 2015: 23% of the LMB barred 2030: 81% of the LMB barred
STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT OF MAINSTREAM DAMS www.mrcmekong.org/ish/sea.htm Study commissioned by the MRC; 23 scientists, consultations in 5 countries involving 60 line agencies, 8 disciplines (Hydrology and sediments, Aquatic systems, Fisheries, Terrestrial systems, Social systems, Energy, Economics, Climate Change)
FISH SPECIES RICHNESS Species # Amazon 1217 Mekong 781 Zaïre 624 Orinoco 549 Paraná 438 Rio Negro 330 Chao Phraya 318 Niger 261 Paraguay 257 Uruguay 228 FISH SPECIES RICHNESS WITHIN THE MEKONG BASIN 70 species lists reviewed (1936-2010)
Conclusion of the SEA : Decisions on mainstream dams should be deferred for a period of ten years with reviews every three years 600,000 tonnes of migrant fish at risk represent the whole annual freshwater fish production in West Africa (15 countries) The migratory fish resource at risk from mainstream dam development ranges between 600,000 and 1.4 million tonnes per year
Research impact Conclusions endorsed by the WorldBank, the Vietnamese National Mekong Committee, the Vietnamese Ministry of Environment and the MRC Joint Development Partners (19 international donors) Conclusions reflected by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the US Department of State At least forty-five media articles about the steps, outcomes and recommendations of the Strategic Environmental Assessment of hydropower on the Mekong mainstream. However the recommendations of the SEA could not become the MRC’s official position, mainly because of Lao PDR’s opposition
CONTRIBUTION TO STRATEGIC PROJECTS Xayaburi Thakho / Don Sahong Xayaburi Thakho / Don Sahong
Xayaburi Review of the fish and fisheries aspects in the Xayaburi project EIA 1260 MW, 49m x 800m
Research impact WorldFish’s results and conclusions cited in at least 20 media articles, including Science, Financial Times, BBC News, The Guardian WorldFish -> Technical Working Group on Fisheries and Sub-group on Dams at the Cambodian Fisheries Administration -> co-authors of the position paper of the Cambodian National Mekong Committee -> official Cambodian position about the Xayaburi dam On 15 / 04 / 2011 the Cambodian and Vietnamese Prime Ministers asked Laos to halt the Xayaburi dam construction WWF attacked in the media the Swiss Colenco engineering company for endorsing unacceptably low standard EIAs in developing countries
Don Sahong / Thakho Critical review of the Don Sahong project (with B. Ratner, 2007) Non transparent, potential large scale impact (migrations + blasting) Transparent project following the guidelines for sustainable hydropower of the IHA; no dam, impact minimal. Conflict for water with Don Sahong Members of the Panel of Independent Experts reviewing the environmental impacts and mitigation measures of the Thakho Hydropower project
REGIONAL SCALE PROJECTS Project “Scenario-based assessment of the potential effects of alternative dam construction schemes on freshwater fish diversity in the Lower Mekong Basin” with the National Institute of Environmental Science in Japan and partners in Cambodia and Thailand -> Atlas of fish migrations and dams in the Mekong (2012) Mekong Challenge Program projects on reservoir management MK1: Optimizing reservoir management for livelihoods MK2: Water valuation MK3: Optimizing the management of a cascade of reservoirs Projects intertwined; common sites; ongoing work Collaboration with Princeton University on impacts of tributary dams on fish resources -> joint publications
Damming in the Mekong River and its impacts on fish migration – a case study of Siamese mud carp, Henicorhynchus siamensis Michio Fukushima, Tuantong Jutagate, Eric Baran Trading-off fish biodiversity, food security and hydropower in the Mekong River Basin Guy Ziv, Eric Baran, Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe, Simon Levin American Geophysical Union
Documentary on Mekong fish migrations and dams Broadcasted on ARTE channel in Europe (2010) New documentary on dams, fish resources and food security Not broadcasted yet
Thailand: loss <5% of protein supply Vietnam: loss <5% of protein supply BUT impact on coastal resources not quantified Pig meat Freshwater fish Chicken meat Cattle meat Cambodia: 35% of LMB fish production Laos: 5% of LMB fish production Thailand: 30% of LMB fish production Vietnam: 30% of LMB fish production 600,000t at risk 210,000t 30,000t 180,000t 180,000t 0 100000 200000 300000 400000 500000 600000 700000 Current With dams 210,000t 30% Cambodia 0 50000 100000 150000 200000 250000 Current With dams 30,000t 12% Lao PDR
Hydropower plants can be built on diversion canals, which utilizes only a fraction of the river for hydropower – leaving the natural stream intact for fish migrations and other sustainable uses E.g.: 18 plants on the Rhone River between Switzerland and France produce ~3000 MW without blocking the river
Integrated projects can combine hydropower with several other uses E.g.: multipurpose river management downstream of Lyon, France
Pak Beng Luang Prabang Xayaburi Sanakham Pak Lay Pak Chom Ban Koum Latsua Don Sahong Stung Treng Sambor MIDDLE CLUSTER
Biodiversity: 386 fish species (29% endemics). Major changes expected (48% of the river upstream turned into reservoirs) but the specific impact of mainstream dams on biodiversity could not be quantified.
Risk of capture fish production losses (upstream + middle cluster): 350,000-680,000 t/y compared to 2000; 200,000 t/y compared to 2015; 140,000 t/y compared to 2030 without dam
Reservoir fish production potential: 330 tonnes per year (error range 300 – 3,000)
Biodiversity: 669 fish species (14% endemics), major changes on biodiversity (55% of the river upstream turned into reservoirs).
Risk of capture fish production losses (all clusters together): 550,000-880,000 t/y compared to 2000; 400,000 t/y compared to 2015; 340,000 t/y compared to 2030 without dams
Reservoir fish production potential: 4,700 tonnes per year (error range 2,000 – 19,000)
Fish migrations from floodplains (feeding) to upstream tributaries (breeding). About a third of the biomass of Mekong fish is made of long distance migrants. UPSTREAM CLUSTER
Biodiversity: 262 fish species (22% endemics), 41 species specifically at risk from mainstream dams, including the critically endangered Mekong giant catfish.
Risk of capture fish production losses (very conservative estimates): 270,000-600,000 t/y compared to 2000; 120,000 t/y compared to 2015; 60,000 t/y compared to 2030 without dams.
Reservoir fish production potential: 7,000 tonnes per year (error range 2,000 – 20,000).