Mekong River: The Danish Minister for Development Cooperation has approved a grant of 25 million DKK (approximately 4 million USD) to the Mekong River Commission’s efforts to ensure sustainable management of fisheries in the Mekong River covering the period 2011-2015. The support consolidates previous Danish-supported fisheries activities that have generated good results in improving the management of fish resources, on which millions of poor people in the region depend.
Fisheries in the Mekong River are under pressure. Economic development in the Mekong River area has increased the demand for electricity, water for industries, households and irrigation as well as fish for consumption. This has led to uncontrolled and unsustainable use of Mekong River resources and has resulted in serious environmental problems in the region. Furthermore, several hydro-power dams are expected to be built in near future to meet the intensifying demand for electricity. Such dams may prevent the natural migration of fish in the river and result in changes in the eco-systems.
Fisheries are of great importance for the food security in the lower Mekong basin. Most people in the region are small-scale farmers for whom fishing is a secondary occupation. Fishing ensures an income that is uses to buy seeds during the dry season and provides an important source of protein in the daily diet. Fishermen already report that their overall catch and the size of the fish in the river are decreasing. Careful management is required to prevent negative consequences of economic developments in the area.
The Danish aid to the Mekong River Commission will support the third and final phase of the Fisheries Programme, which has already shown good results in creating a foundation for sustainable management of fisheries resources in the countries in the lower Mekong basin; Vietnam, Lao, Thailand and Cambodia. The preceding interventions have generated important knowledge on fish stocks and have established cooperation between fishermen and authorities on decision-making regarding fishing techniques and protection of vulnerable areas.
The third phase aims at consolidating the achieved results by ensuring that regional and national institutions continue to manage fisheries resources in a sustainable manner. The programme will ensure that decision makers are aware of the importance of fisheries for poverty alleviation and that they hold a solid understanding of the fisheries situation and of the consequences of various economic developments such as construction of hydro-power dams.