ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Fisheries monitoring in the Mekong Basin to assess impacts of mainstream hydropower projects as part of the Mekong River Joint Environment Monitoring (JEM) Programme. (2020-2022)


Australian Water Partnership, $640,542


Professor Lee Baumgartner

Research theme

Sustainable Development  (International)


The Mekong River Commission (MRC) is piloting a Joint Environmental Monitoring (JEM) Program for Mekong mainstream hydropower projects.

The program is being piloted at two existing dams before being extended to all planned dams on the Mekong mainstream. During the pilot program’s inception phase, a gap in fish pass monitoring methodology was identified.

As a result the MRC approached the Australian Water Partnership,  through the Australia-Mekong Water Facility supported by the Australian Government, to engage CSU to fill this gap.

Accordingly, AWP is supporting ILWS researchers to work with in-country partners in the Mekong River Basin: The Department of Livestock and Fisheries (DLF), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Lao PDR; and the Living Aquatic Resources Research Centre (LARREC).

The aim of the project is not to develop and implement a systematic methodology but rather test the guidelines and provide recommendations for sustainable fish pass monitoring methodologies in the Mekong River Basin.

Its objectives are:

  • To develop jointly with the existing JEM team a proposal for fish passage monitoring including different fish tagging procedures along the Mekong River
  • To test methodologies and different tagging techniques (including PIT and acoustic tags) for the Don Sahong Hydropower Project so as to understand implications of these different techniques in the Mekong
  • To contribute to the finalisation of the MRC JEM Programme on fish passage monitoring, based on the lessons learnt at Xayaburi and Don Sahong
  • To build capacity of LARREC staff and other MRC fisheries counterparts in fish passage monitoring and fish tagging including survival testing, and inputs into a cloud-based fish passage database system.

This activity will produce a method for monitoring fish passage in hydropower projects to be developed along the Mekong River, which could lead to improvements in the design of the fish passage structures.

It will also provide information to create an understanding of the potential impacts of hydropower projects on fish migration.



The expected outcome of this project is a method for monitoring fish passage in hydropower projects along the Mekong River that could lead improvements in the design of fish passage structures and a better understanding of potential impacts of hydropower projects on fish migration.


Professor Lee Baumgartner

Albury-Wodonga campus


February 2021