Evidence from dam developments elsewhere throughout the world suggests that the Mekong dams will block many migratory fish species from accessing crucial feeding, spawning and nursery habitat, and thereby prevent them from completing their life cycles.
The first mainstem Mekong River dam was recently commissioned in October 2019 at Xayaburi, in Lao PDR.
There are many benefits of dam construction; namely creating jobs, supplying and exporting electricity and reducing poverty.
However, there are concerns about the impacts on the livelihoods of people currently dependent on the river, and the difficulties of mitigating those impacts.
Assessing fisheries mitigation measures at Xayaburi Dam in Lao PDR (2019-2024)
Funding ACIAR $1.92M
A record level of investment has been put towards mitigating the impact of the Xayaburi Dam on fish passage, with the goal of setting the best-practice standard for future mainstem dam developments.
The effectiveness of the Xayaburi fishway remains untested, and a strategic research program is working to address this issue. Charles Sturt University has partnered with KarlTek Pty Ltd, Xayaburi Power Company, National University of Lao, Living Aquatic Resources Research Centre and Fish Matters IP, to develop optimal techniques for assessing the performance of mainstem dam fishways in the Lower Mekong Basin.
The research team have been applying these techniques to evaluate fish passage at the site.