Mekong: a river rising | The Guardian

 

The fate of 70 million people rests on what happens to the Mekong river. With world leaders meeting in Paris for crucial UN climate talks, John Vidal journeys down south-east Asia’s vast waterway – a place that encapsulates some of the dilemmas they must solve. He meets people struggling to deal with the impacts of climate change as well as the ecological havoc created by giant dams, deforestation, coastal erosion and fast-growing cities

John Vidal’s first stop along the river is the tiny country of Laos. Fifty years ago, Laos began to build a series of giant dams. It was the first chance the country had to generate the electricity and money needed to emerge from deep poverty. But is this demand for clean energy creating ecological and human havoc?

Read more at Mekong: a river rising / The Guardian

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Vietnamese plea to Thailand: Don’t divert the Mekong | The Nation Thailand

quote1[Thailand’s] Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha voiced plans to use water from the Mekong and Salween rivers to fill dams that have run low because of drought and poor water management. But the PM’s remarks have caused shockwaves in the [Vietnamese] Mekong Delta, which would be directly affected if such a project was to go ahead.

Nguyen Huu Thien, a freelance expert on wetland ecology and natural resource conservation, criticised the idea. He said taking a large amount of water out of an international river was like sucking the blood from a body and would surely hurt the livelihood of people downstream.

“I just heard of Thailand’s idea to divert water from the Mekong River. I still don’t have much information about the plan but I strongly oppose this idea, as a change in the amount of water in the river would definitely have an impact on the people who live in the Mekong Delta and who rely on the river,” Thien said.

From: Vietnamese plea to Thailand: Don’t divert the Mekong | The Nation Thailand

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.

UNESCO hails famous VN’s ancient house as ‘impressive’ – News VietNamNet

Huynh Thuy Le was the inspiration for the protagonist in French writer and Le\’s lover Marguerite Duras\’s novel L\’ Amant. His house is famous for its unique architecture blending southern Vietnamese, French, and Chinese styles.

The wooden house was built in 1895. In 1917 his father rebuilt the house like a French villa, using both eastern and western architectural elements.

Last year more than 30,000 people visited the house, with the number from EU countries increasing by 20 per cent year-on-year.

via UNESCO hails famous VN’s ancient house as ‘impressive’ – News VietNamNet.

Biomass supply chains developed by VTT speed up use of bioenergy in Vietnam

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed efficiency in the biomass supply and use for energy in Vietnam\’s Mekong Delta as part of the Energy and Environment Partnership Programme of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Mechanisation of loading and unloading of biomass working phases reduce transport costs by 15%. The production and use of biomass pellets in industrial boilers was demonstrated to be financially and technologically sound.

Vietnam possesses considerable biomass reserves. Development of the current biomass supply chains and power plant operations will increase the use of biomass fuels for energy.

VTT\’s task in Vietnam was to develop efficient and reliable biomass supply chains for multi-fuel CHP power plants and industrial boilers. At the beginning of the project, VTT developed five new biomass supply technologies, three of which were selected for practical demonstration in the Mekong Delta.

via Biomass supply chains developed by VTT speed up use of bioenergy in Vietnam.

Japan mulls to boost medical exports to 5 Mekong countries – Xinhua | English.news.cn

TOKYO, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) — Japan is mulling to boost its medical-related exports to five Mekong-bound countries in Southeast Asia by setting up a task force involving public and private sectors later this week, according to local media on Monday.

The task force aims at accelerating Japan\’s exports on its advanced medical technologies such as facilities and medical insurance system to Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos, reported Japan\’s Kyodo News.

The move is a part of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe\’s growth strategy and the country plans to sign a memorandum of understanding on expanding medical cooperation with the Mekong countries in a summit commemorating the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Tokyo next month, said the report, citing government officials.

via Japan mulls to boost medical exports to 5 Mekong countries – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

Catching locusts, earning million dong a day – News VietNamNet

At dawn, when the sun did not rise up yet, a group of four men and one woman were present on the field of Quynh Thach commune, Quynh Luu district to catch grasshoppers. Their tools are a net of 50-60m long, small bamboo slats and a coil of rope of hundreds of meters long binding small bags containing chopped rice leaves.

The teams both walked and stretched the long rope on the field to drive away grasshoppers to the area where they set the net. Being driven away, the locusts flew at the \”instruction\” of the hunters. In minutes, locusts covered the net and these people only needed to collect the net and pour the locusts into a sack. Each catch, they gained 30-40 kg of grasshoppers.

Grasshopper hunting has become a job of many people in Quynh Luu district for 4-5 years. Quynh Thanh commune is the location of origin of this job. Initially, locust catchers ran motorcycles along the fields and used rackets to catch grasshoppers. But this measure could not help them catch locusts in large amounts. When locust prices increased rapidly, local people “invented” the above method.

Having worked for five years in the profession, Mr. Ho Van Tao from Quynh Thanh commune, considered catching grasshoppers as a profession to earn a living. Getting married so late at the age of 40, his first child is only 9 years old. Tao and his wife left their four children to Tao’s parents to earn their living.

via Catching locusts, earning million dong a day – News VietNamNet.