Celebrating the Mekong River

By Kerry Brink

The Mekong River is among the most impressive river systems around the world.

It covers an area of 62,520 km2. This is almost double the total land area of the Netherlands. In this river there are around 900 fish species – hundreds of which are migratory. It is thus not surprising that the Mekong is famous for its biodiversity and impressive yearly fish migrations onto the floodplains and up river. The value of the Mekong is not only related to ecosystem functioning, but also to its economical and social importance. The fish populations in the Mekong contributes massively to the fisheries industry in South East Asia and is an extremely important food source for thousands of people living along the river.

The threats of hydropower and dams to the region are a major concern. In the From Sea to Source book 2.0 there are two case studies that highlight these threats and suggest applicable solutions.

  • The one study gives insights into how scientists, environmental agencies and stakeholders are pushing for revised power concepts and effective mitigation techniques for fish passage and flood control in the Sambor Dam and the Mekong-Mekong-Tonle Sap free-flowing corridor.
  • The other discusses the biology of the Mekong giant catfish, the solutions that are needed to improve the threats to this critically endangered fish species and how increased international cooperation, continued fishing closures and effective mitigation techniques can help this impressive species.

In October 2018, a workshop hosted by Wonders of the Mekong brought together 65 stakeholders and international advisors to identify high-priority data needs for migratory fish in the Mekong Basin. During the seminar a policy brief was created: A vision for migratory fish in Cambodia.

Have a look at the Mekong Fish Network. They have a great website and newsletter, with news and project information from South East Asia

Picture: Releasing a tagged Mekong giant catfish. Mekong River, Cambodia (c) Zeb Hogan. 


Why do we care about free flowing rivers?

By Kerry Brink

We all know that rivers consist of many different components such as water, vegetation, rocks, fish, invertebrates, birds and sometimes crocodiles.

But the question that is often asked is why do we care if they are flowing and thriving with animals and biodiversity? How will it affect us and, perhaps more oftenly asked, how will it affect us who are living in the cities?

Organisations like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), The Nature Conservancy, International Rivers and many others have all been working hard to explain this to people around the world.

Here is a great summary of how free flowing ecosystems provide social, economic and conservational value to people all around the world from the From Sea to Source 2.0 book: www.fromseatosource.com. More can be found in the WWF (2006) report: Free-flowing rivers – economic luxury or ecological necessity? Zeist: WWF Global Freshwater Programme

Image (c) From Sea to Source 2.0