Investigator: Dam Project Killing Dolphins, Hurting Fishing and Tourism Industries

Radio Free Asia –

A member of Cambodia’s Supreme Council for Recommendations on Wednesday told RFA’s Khmer Service that local authorities are utilizing legal loopholes to avoid adhering to regulations that would protect the biodiversity of the Mekong River.

Kong Monika led the Council’s team in investigating the impact of the Don Sahong Dam, currently under construction near the Laos-Cambodia border. He said the purpose of the investigation was to find out if the endangered freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins are being protected according to the laws of Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.

Monika said that authorities are doing nothing to restrict illegal fishing during times when the activity is supposed to be banned. He also highlighted how illegal fishing nets are killing the dolphins and other marine animals.

“People are still fishing in the off-limits zones that were set up to protect the dolphins,” he said.

The dam project not only puts the dolphins at risk; it also hurts the livelihoods of villagers who rely on the river, the investigation found.

“In the past, there were a lot of fish in the Mekong River, but nowadays we catch only 30 percent of what we could five years ago,” a fisherman in Laos’ Khong district told RFA’s Lao Service in April.


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