Siamese Mud Carp and Hydroelectric Dams in the Mekong River Basin (Various Studies)

From: Potential Effects of Hydroelectric Dam Development in the Mekong River Basin on the Migration of Siamese Mud Carp (Henicorhynchus siamensis and H. lobatus) Elucidated by Otolith Microchemistry by Michio Fukushima, Tuantong Jutagate, Chaiwut Grudpan, Pisit Phomikong, Seiichi Nohara, 6 August 2014

quote1Of the vast multitude of fish species in the Mekong River, two closely-related species, Henicorhynchus siamensis and H. lobatus, are of special concern given the rapid rate of hydropower development. Inhabiting the Mekong and Chao Phraya basins (H. siamensis) and the Mekong basin (H. lobatus), these two small-sized cyprinids, collectively referred to as Siamese mud carp, are the most abundant and most economically important fish in the middle and lower Mekong basin. They are harvested in huge numbers, especially in and around Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia and the Khone Falls area in southern Laos. These species account for 43% and over 50% of the total catch in these areas, respectively, with an overall basin-wide catch being >12% for the two species combined.

quote1The Siamese mud carp populations in the Mekong, or at least some of them, are known to perform long-distance migrations. However, what is known about their migrations is severely limited. In Thailand and Laos, the species undertake upstream migration in the early rainy season above the Khone Falls, whereas in Cambodia, this species migrate upstream at the onset of the dry season below the waterfalls. The latter migrants possibly originate from the Tonle Sap Lake, first descending the Tonle Sap River and then ascending the Mekong mainstream toward and even past the Khone Falls . Spawning takes place in tributaries or floodplains during the wet season, with a peak in May-June. Eggs and larvae are carried to nursery habitats on the floodplain by the water current. At the beginning of the dry season, juveniles move out of the floodplains with the receding water and seek dry season refuge habitats such as deep pools in the Mekong mainstream.

From: Population subdivision in Siamese mud carp Henicorhynchus siamensis in the Mekong River basin: implications for management. Adamson EA1, Hurwood DA, Baker AM, Mather PB. 2009

quote1A molecular approach was employed to investigate stock structure in Siamese mud carp Henicorhynchus siamensis populations collected from 14 sites across mainland south-east Asia, with the major focus being the lower Mekong River basin. Spatial analysis of a mitochondrial DNA fragment (ATPase 6 and 8) identified four stocks in the Mekong River basin that were all significantly differentiated from a population in the nearby Khlong River, Thailand. In the Mekong River basin, populations in northern Lao People’s Democratic Republic and northern Thailand represent two independent stocks, and samples from Thai tributaries group with those from adjacent Mekong sites above the Khone Falls to form a third stock. All sites below the Khone Falls constituted a single vast stock that includes Cambodia and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. While H. siamensis is considered currently to undertake extensive annual migrations across the Mekong River basin, the data presented here suggest that natural gene flow may occur over much more restricted geographical scales within the basin, and hence populations may need to be managed at finer spatial scales than at the whole-of-drainage-basin level.

From: ‘The migration pattern of Trey Riel, Henicorhynchus siamensis, in the Mekong mainstream’ Chan Sokheng, 2000?

quote1Below the Khone Falls, H. siamensis migrates upstream from November to February, whereas above the Khone Falls, it migrates upstream from March to September. It migrates in response to changing water levels. As floodwaters recede H. siamensis migrates from the flooded areas back to main river channels, e.g. the Mekong mainstream. Several fishers below the Khone Falls reported that the peak period of upstream migration for H. siamensis occurs one week before the full moon. Above the Khone Falls, migrations appear to be less influenced by the lunar phase. Some fishers along the stretch from Kratie to the Khone Falls in Cambodia were able to determine the speed of migration based on the time it takes for the fish to move between two villages along the river. They estimated the speed at 16 km per day… Below the Khone Falls, H. siamensis migrates downstream from May to September when the water levels start to rise. This corresponds with the peak time for observations of eggs in the fish, i.e. the peak spawning period is believed to occur between May to June.

quote1Migration is usually linked to changes in the water levels. When water levels start to rise during the flooding season, fish migrate from the Mekong mainstream to canals and flooded areas. Near the end of flooding season fish migrate back to the larger rivers. In the Mekong mainstream upstream migrations occur from November to February and downstream migrations from May to September (below Khone falls). The patterns of migration described below the Khone Falls differ from observations made in northern Lao and Thailand, where migrations take place from November to February. This could indicate that a different sub-population is involved in that section of the river. It should be noted that fishers catch this species all year round.

2015-08-15 16_08_52-www.mekonginfo.org_assets_midocs_0001336-biota-the-migration-pattern-of-trey-rie


From: ‘Life history of the riverine cyprinid Henicorhynchus siamensis (Sauvage, 1881) in a small reservoir’ by A. Suvarnaraksha, S. Lek, S. Lek-Ang and T. Jutagate. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, August, 2011

quote1Fish of the genus Henicorhynchus are small migratory cyprinids and one of the most important groups in the Lower Mekong Basin and Chaophraya River basin fisheries, especially the Siamese mud carp Henicorhynchus siamensis (Sauvage, 1881). This fish is a common catch whereby in thebasin area four sub-populations were recently identified (Adamson et al., 2009). H. siamensis is also the main fish catch produced by the commercial bag-net fisheries in Tonle Sap, Cambodia, where it constitutes more than 60% of the catch and accounts for almost 10% of the total value generated (Deap et al., 1998). Moreover, H. siamensis is ranked as the top species commonly consumed by Cambodians. These advantages play a crucial role as the most important animal food for the poor (Kent, 1997) and also fulfill a role as a dietary source of vitamins and minerals (Rooset al., 2007). The importance of this fish is also acknowledged in the Cambodian currency, the ÔrielÕ, which is named after the Cambodian common name for H. siamensis of “trey riel” (Volbo-Jørgensen and Poulsen, 2000).

quote1H. siamensis is also well known for its migratory habit oflateral migration into the floodplains during the flood season and then returning to the rivers when the flood waters begin torecede (Rainboth, 1996). But it is also known not to prosper inimpoundments (Lamberts, 2001; Chheng et al., 2004), as itslife cycle depends on the river ⁄ flood regime. However, H. siamensis can successfully inhabit man-made lakes in Thailand as well as in the Lao PDR, and is among the candidates for a fish stock enhancement program to increase fish production in inland water bodies in the region (Jutagate 2009). Knowledge of the life cycles of many important SoutheastAsia freshwater fish species is still very fragmentary, especially when they inhabit an uncommon environment (Volbo-Jørgen-sen and Poulsen, 2000). Given the importance of H. siamensis to fisheries in many parts of major Southeast Asian rivers, this study aimed to investigate the key facets of the H. siamensis life history (Froese et al., 2000), i.e. reproduction, feeding and growth. A goal was to see whether this small cyprinid could flourish and support a small-scale artisanal fishery in a reservoir and to evaluate its potential as a source of protein and micronutrients as well as income for the local people in the vicinity of the reservoir.


China Should Join Mekong Commission: US Official

China should join an intergovernmental commission supervising development of the Mekong River to more effectively address environmental and other problems faced by downstream Southeast Asian nations, a senior U.S. government official says.

Aaron Salzberg, special coordinator for water issues at the U.S. State Department, also underlined the importance of political will in ensuring that the Mekong River Commission (MRC) functions as an effective forum in coordinating shared use of the region’s main waterway.

“In the long run, I think it would be good for China to become a full active member in the MRC … sharing data so that the downstream countries actually understand what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen and they can prepare accordingly for those types of things,” Salzberg told RFA.

“China can play an active role in managing their infrastructure for downstream benefits,” he said.

Five dams commissioned in China on the Mekong river’s upper portion have caused rapid changes in water levels and other adverse effects downstream, especially in the four countries of the Lower Mekong Basin—Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos—where tens of millions of people depend on the river for food, water, and transportation, environmentalists say.

China has refused to join the MRC—which comprises the four lower Mekong nations and manages development along the Mekong—although the river’s source is located within the Asian giant’s borders, saying it prefers to negotiate on a bilateral basis to resolve any problems on the issue.

via China Should Join Mekong Commission: US Official.

Laos seeks to soothe neighbors over Mekong dam – WORLD –

Laos is taking steps to convince neighboring countries of the merits of the planned Don Sahong hydropower project over Mekong River.

Lao government officials organized a site visit on Sunday and Monday so that interested parties could see the site first-hand and get a sense of the natural and social environment of the project area in the far south of Champassak province, some 700 km south of Lao capital Vientiane.

The site visit was arranged after the Lao government notified neighboring countries through the intergovernmental Mekong River Commission (MRC) of its decision to proceed with development of the 260 MW run-of-river dam, Lao state-run Vientiane Times online reported on Sunday.

More than 100 people are visiting the site of the 723.1 million US dollars project. Plans call for the group to travel by boat to the dam site and walk along the channels through the Siphandone area where the Mekong River flows into Cambodia.

The visit was organized by Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines together with the Lao National Mekong Committee and the project developer, Malaysia\’s Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB).

Delegations from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and representatives from MRC development partners, non-governmental organizations ( NGOs), independent organizations and regional media outlets were invited to take part.

The site visit aims to demonstrate that the dam will not be built on the Mekong mainstream, and that Laos is complying with the 1995 Mekong Agreement on sustainable development. The aim of the visit is to provide accurate information regarding Laos\’ decision to develop the project and to gather feedback, said the report.

The main concerns of neighboring countries are fish passage and migration through the area. Senior Environmental Manager of the Don Sahong Hydropower Project, Peter Hawkins, said once the dam is built, fish will be able to use several other channels for upstream and downstream migration.

Some foreign media and environmental activists said Laos is in violation of the 1995 Mekong Agreement as it failed to conduct prior consultation with downstream neighbors before giving the project the go-ahead. Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines, Viraphonh Viravong, said Laos did not breach the 1995 agreement because it does not regard Hou Sahong as part of the Mekong mainstream.

via Laos seeks to soothe neighbors over Mekong dam – WORLD –

Kachin girls fall easy prey on the China-Myanmar border | Bangkok Post

JE YANG CAMP – A 17-year-old Kachin girl was locked in a room for three weeks while a Chinese couple tried to sell her as a “temporary wife” to the highest bidder.

“I cried all the time, but they just told me I had to marry the man they chose for me and that I would never go back home again,” said Seng Pan, recently returned to Je Yang refugee camp from her ordeal across the border in Yunnan, China.

“Some men offered 20,000 Chinese yuan (3,200 United States dollars) to 30,000 yuan for me, but the couple wanted to get at least 50,000 yuan,” she said.

Seng Pan was lucky her captors were so greedy. One day when the couple left the house she managed to break out of her room and call authorities at Je Yang to inform them of her plight.

Camp officials alerted Chinese police.

“The police sent an undercover agent to pretend he wanted to buy me, and then then arrested the couple for human trafficking,” she said. “They sent me back to the camp.”

Since June 2011, when fighting broke out between the Myanmar military and the rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA), an estimated 140,000 civilians in the northern state have been displaced and forced to live in refugee camps, many of them situated along the Chinese border.

Many women in the camps have been forced to seek work in China to support their families, making them vulnerable to abuses.

“Human trafficking is common in the Kachin state, especially in refugee camps near the boarder,” said Khon Ja, a woman leader from the non-governmental Kachin Peace Network.

After a 17-year ceasefire with the government fell apart more than two years ago, the Kachin state has been divided into areas under state control and those under the control of the ethnic rebels.

According to government figures, there are nearly 43,000 displaced people living in 106 camps under state control, and more than 80,000 living in KIA-controlled camps.

via Kachin girls fall easy prey on the China-Myanmar border | Bangkok Post: breakingnews.

Meth Seizures on the Rise in East and Southeast Asia, Says UNODC – Southeast Asia Real Time – WSJ

BANGKOK – Seizures of methamphetamines and meth-related arrests in Asia reached record highs in 2012, according to a new report, but the news is likely a sign that despite a crackdown by drug enforcement agencies, some drugs are still readily available and others are becoming more so.

A total of 227 million meth pills were seized in East and Southeast Asia in 2012, according to a report released on Friday by the United Nations’ Office of Drugs and Crime, or UNODC. The staggering number represents a 59% surge from 2011, and a more than seven-fold increase since 2008.

Meth pill seizures in 2012 were almost exclusively from countries in the Greater Mekong sub-region, led by China, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, respectively, according to the report.

via Meth Seizures on the Rise in East and Southeast Asia, Says UNODC – Southeast Asia Real Time – WSJ.

Laos women falling victim to fraudster matchmakers | Vientiane Times

Lao women have fallen victim to fraudsters masquerading as matchmaking service providers offering a life with a foreign husband, according to a senior government official.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs employee, who did not wish to be named, said the mostly-uneducated women had been lured into leaving the country to marry and live with foreign men.

The women were introduced to foreign men who claimed they wanted to get married. However, once the victims arrived in their supposed-fiancées’ countries, they were passed onto to other groups. The people responsible for the service were paid by unidentified parties.

For instance, cases have been reported of girls fleeing to the Lao Embassy in the Republic of Korea seeking help to return home.

The official said cases occasionally surfaced, but he could not confirm if the incidences were carried out by human trafficking groups.

Cases of a similar nature had also been reported among Lao girls in the northern provinces, who had been lured to China but returned home safely.

via Vientiane Times.

Apple snails in high demand in Mekong Delta | Tuổi Trẻ news

Nguyen Ngoc Hong, from the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang, says she hunts for apple snails in nearby paddy fields and canals whenever she has the time.

Local traders are willing to pay VND14,000 for a kilogram of snails with the shell removed, Hong says.

Elsewhere in Bac Lieu, the pests have also become sought-after as traders even pay higher: VND19,000 per kilogram.

After sourcing a huge amount of the snails, traders will sell them to facilities in Long My District.

The apple snail, or golden snail, a serious threat to rice production and the native ecosystem, has suddenly become sought-after in the Mekong Delta, with traders offering high payments to stockpile large amounts of the pests from local farmers.

Vo Nhu Y, deputy chairman of the local government of Ninh Quoi A, said it has been reported that the snails will be sold to China.

“But the speculation remains unverified,” he added.

Y said people in his commune have collected as many as 1 ton of snails to sell to traders every day.

Meanwhile, Le Hong Viet, deputy chief of the economic bureau of Long My District, said traders ship the products to facilities in Ho Chi Minh City instead of China.

It is a common trick of foreign traders, especially Chinese, to create false demand for agricultural products by offering high buying prices and then to abruptly stop buying the product.

via Apple snails in high demand in Mekong Delta | Tuổi Trẻ news.