Empty nets on the Mekong

The New York Times
6 May, 2013

In my last post, I described how our attempts at fishing in the Mekong River had produced meager results, which was somewhat puzzling because the Mekong produces the largest harvest of freshwater fish in the world, by far.

As a father, this was frustrating; catching fish was the top priority of my 10-year old son, Luca, and I was determined that he fulfill that goal. But as a river ecologist, our low success rate had me curious about the status of fish populations in this river.

And it wasn’t just that I’m an inexperienced angler trying to catch fish in a big, complicated river (and using a rod and reel in a place where people generally use nets and traps). We’d spent one afternoon with experienced fishers — using the right equipment — and we’d hauled in a pretty small catch for the effort. Were Mekong fisheries in decline?

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