Fish passage development aims to safeguard numbers

Vientiane Times
7 August, 2013

Laos is improving fish passage design and construction in an attempt to protect aquatic species against decline from the high level of infrastructure and water resource development in the country.

Road construction and irrigation development to support poverty reduction has increased rapidly in recent years, but these developments may impact fish migration and spawning.

Development partners, government officials and non-government representatives gathered in Vientiane yesterday to discuss fish passage planning and management. This will be of benefit to Lao people as fisheries production is on the rise.

The workshop also served to increase the understanding of fish passage construction and monitoring.

In Laos, the first fishway study was conducted at the Pakpeung wetland, Borikhamxay province from 2008-2009, and another took place in 2011 at the Huaysai reservoir, Nam Phou village, Xayphouthong district in Savannakhet province, Deputy Director of the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute, Mr Soulivanthong Kingkeo, said at the workshop.

The study was conducted between researchers from the Living Aquatic Resources Research Centre, academics from the Faculty of Agriculture in the National University of Laos, provincial and district officers of Borikhamxay province, and Australian experts, he said.

The study was carried out again in 2012-2013 at Pakpeung wetland, Borikhamxay province, with the aim of collecting additional data for the design of permanent fishways.

In early 2012, ground was broken on a fish passage demonstration site at the Pakpeung wetland with a total length of 150 metres for a cost of US$156,000. It was completed in May this year, said Mr Soulivanthong.

The construction of suitable fishways allows fish to migrate and also supports sustainable use of water resources.

Fish passage development in Laos is an emerging scientific discipline and it’s important that fishway designs are based on data of Mekong region species as Laos is rapidly developing water resources for many purposes, he explained.

Therefore, the study on fish passages in Laos is necessary and the institute is attempting to include this into irrigation and development policy, he added.

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