What scientific information can government officials and others use to validate, identify, and prioritize needed scientific studies in the Mekong River Basin related to sustainable river resources and ecosystems? That was the focus of the recent Mekong River System Science Data Workshop: Science for a Sustainable Mekong River System, held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, from 16-18 September 2014. The workshop was hosted by the Vietnam Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and a number of other local and international institutions.
Two fisheries-themed talks were given by staff from FISHBIO. Doug Demko, FISHBIO’s President, gave a talk on the importance of fisheries research and monitoring to properly plan for hydropower and irrigation development, and reduce potential environmental impacts. His talk stressed that appropriate planning is key to effectively developing and utilizing water resources, and this includes incorporating science at all stages of development. From pre-project research to ongoing monitoring throughout the operation of water infrastructure, gathering fisheries and environmental data allows managers to make informed decisions and actions on a real-time basis. His talk is available to view below.
The workshop was well attended by researchers from Southeast Asia as well as from around the world. A central point of discussion was the challenge of identifying which data are most needed to effectively manage Mekong water, environmental, and fishery resources, as well as how to share and analyze those data in a timely manner for planning and management purposes. There are many challenges in the Mekong similar to issues water and fisheries resource managers faced in the United States several decades ago. Workshops and planning efforts such as this will help ensure that experiences can be shared across countries, and science can play a larger role in development decisions that ultimately affect the river, the fish, and the people of the Mekong Basin.