MRC predicts up to 70 percent cut of fisheries production across Mekong basin from hydropower production

Dam construction in the Mekong river will likely deal a serious economic blow to Cambodia, with dire outlooks for fisheries and rice production even under best case scenario, The Phnom Penh Post Online reported on Wednesday (Dec 20) referring to a study of the Mekong River Commission which is due to be published in January.

The findings are part of a five-year study on the sustainable management of the Mekong River system, including impacts from hydropower development.

The MRC said that the changes in the Mekong river’s flow due to dam construction will introduce “negative effects on the riparian ecosystems, sustainability and food security associated with fish production for Cambodia.

According to scenario modelling full hydropower development, fisheries production in lake and floodplain in Cambodia is predicted to be cut by up to 70 percent across the Mekong basin while annual GDP loss is estimated to the tune of $3-5 billion during 2020-2040.

Fish production will be driven down by reduced flows of nutrients and sediments and, in turn, affecting food prices in the region, according to the MRC findings.

And this will affect the livelihoods of communities living along the Mekong river and the Tonle Sap flood plain, said the findings.

The MRC suggested Mekong riparian governments to consider other emerging energy technologies that are competitive with hydropower.