Lao dam impact on dolphin migration highlighted

Khmer Times –

Sub-national officials and communities in the province are concerned about the impact of Laos’ Don Sahong hydropower dam on the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin population in the downstream Mekong River.

According to Reuters, the dam began operations and connected its power grid to the Kingdom earlier this month to curb electricity outages.

On Wednesday provincial authorities held a meeting with journalists and NGO representatives at Provincial Hall to discuss the dam’s environmental impacts on Irrawaddy dolphin habitat.

The NGO representatives include those from World Wildlife Fund Cambodia, Non-Timber Forest Products-Exchange Programme for Cambodia, Culture and Environment Preservation Association, Regional Community Forestry Training Center and the NGO Forum.

Deputy provincial governor Chea Thavrith said the Mekong, Sesan, Srepok and Sekong Rivers in the province are natural freshwater habitats and have agriculture and tourism potentials.

Mr Thavrith said when Don Sahong was built, it dramatically affected river flow, adding three dolphins went missing from a pool in Stung Treng.

“During the past few months a midst the flood season, dolphins migrated across the Lao border and back, but after Don Sahong began operations, river flow has been very low during the dry season,” he said. “Today, we see that the water where the dolphins live is shallow when compared to [before the dam was built].”

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