Fishermen without fish as Cambodia’s river reversal runs late


Crucial water flows to the Tonle Sap, Southeast Asia’s largest lake, have been delayed for a second consecutive year according to river experts, severely disrupting fishing and threatening the food supply of more than a million people.

The river reversal vital for Tonle Sap Lake may not happen until next month, officials said, owing to drought conditions and more than a dozen hydropower dams in China and Laos which are blamed for disrupting the natural flow of the Mekong River.

The Mekong typically swells in rainy season where it converges with Cambodia’s Tonle Sap River, causing an unusual reversed flow into the Tonle Sap Lake, filling it up and providing bountiful fish stocks.

But that hasn’t happened yet and people who depend on the lake are struggling to get by.

“I went out fishing for two nights and couldn’t catch enough,” said 37-year-old Khon Kheak, repairing a fishing net under his stilt house at Kampong Khleang, a floating village with little water to float in.

That trip earned him 12,000 riels, or about $3, compared to $12-$25 a day last year, enough to support his family of six.

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