Vietnam: Hydropower dams endangering aquatic resources on Serepok River

VietNamNet Bridge 10 Nov 17;

The rich aquatic resources on Serepok River are in danger as more hydropower dams are being built on the mainstream, leading to changes in the water current and environment.

Serepok has a basin area of 12,030 square kilometers in Vietnam and mainstream total length of 290 kilometers.

The biodiversity of the river is high, with 195 fish species and other aquatic species, including ones with high economic and scientific value. Aquatic resources provide daily food and provide jobs for thousands of local households.

According to Phan Thi Le Anh from MARD, a survey conducted within the framework of the Fisheries Management in Mekong Basin project in 2010, identified 34 fish species of high economic value with high quality meat, rich nutrients and high yields, or 17.4 percent of total fish species found on the river.

There are also fish species endemic in the Central Highlands which are in danger of becoming extinct such as ca tra soc (Probarbus jullieni) and ca mom trau (Bangana behri).

Scientists have confirmed that five fish species are listed in Vietnam’s Red Book and six species are endangered in IUCN 2016 (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).

However, aquatic resources are in decline because of hydropower plants on the upper course. The fish on Serepok have the habit of migrating within the river.

The existence of hydropower dams across the river blocks their way, making it impossible for them to go to the upper and middle course for reproduction or return to the downstream. As a result, the number of fish on Serepok are decreasing.

In the past, many people in the communes of Tram Thang, Ea Po, Nam N’dir, Duc Xuyen and Quang Phu lived on fishing. The career brought income as high as that from rice cultivation. Now, fishing villages are getting quiet as people cannot earn a living with fishing.

Nguyen Van Thuan, a local man, said he can catch only several fish a day which cannot feed his family. Thuan now fishes for fun.

Phan Van Bang, an old fisherman, confirmed that there is no fish to catch and fishermen have given up the career.

Le Anh from MARD found that in 2005, nearly 1,000 people lived on fishing in Dak Nong and the output was 12.9 kilos per head per day in the rainy season and 7.7 kilos in the dry season.

But since the day D’ray H’ling 2, Buon Kuop and Buon Tua Srah plants became operational, the output has been decreasing sharply.

In 2009, the number of fishermen fell to 400 and the output decreased to 300 tons from 1,000 tons in 2005.

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