Danish Grant Keeps Mekong River Commission Afloat

A new Danish grant of 3.6 million USD to MRC Fisheries Programme in 2009-2010 will enable the MRC to continue to facilitate sustainable development of fisheries in the Mekong River Basin and to analyze the effects to fisheries of major hydro power investments in the Basin.
The new Danish grants follows up a grant of 30 million DKK or 6 million USD for the period 2005-2008 and ensures that the MRC Fisheries Programme can continue its activities which has become ever more important in light of the ongoing and planned major hydro power and dam investments in the Mekong River basin.
The implementation of the many planned major hydro power and dam projects in the Mekong Basin has major impact on the Mekong River fisheries. While the Mekong fishery today is in relatively good condition, the warning signs of disruption are clear. Loss of habitat, barriers to migration and changes to the seasonal pulse of the river are the main risk to fish stocks and fisheries stability. Such threats stem from competing demands on the use of the Mekong’s waters, and the most far-reaching one is the use of the Mekong water resources for hydro power.
The MRC Fisheries Programme will increase research and analysis of the effects on fisheries of these investments in order to enable decision makers to take informed decisions in regard to hydro power and dam projects.
The overall objective of the MRC Fisheries Programme is to contribute to a coordinated and sustainable development, utilisation and protection of the fisheries resources of the Mekong River at local, national and regional levels, which is of key importance to the livelihoods of the poor population in the entire Mekong Region.
The programme has helped strengthen information systems and awareness of the biological and socio-economic factors of importance for a sustainable utilisation and protection of the fisheries resources in the Mekong River, and works to build capacity and introduce sustainable fisheries management methods.
The Mekong River Commission (MRC) was established in 1995 by an agreement between the governments of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam with the purpose of jointly managing their shared water resources and developing the economic potential of the river. The MRC is a unique, treaty-based inter-governmental cooperation whose importance it is not only limited to the use of natural resources, but also to the political stability in a traditionally turbulent region.
Denmark is currently the largest donor to the Mekong River Commission.
In April 2007 Denmark and Vietnam took the initiative to call for a high-level International Conference on the Mekong River Commission to discuss ways to strengthen the Mekong River Commission to play a stronger role in the sustainable development of water and related resources in the Mekong Basin, in collaboration with national, regional and international partners in order to reduce poverty in the Mekong region. The Conference adopted a Joint Statement on the Mekong River Commission that sets out the agreed efforts to strengthen the organisation.

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