Dam-building threatens Mekong fisheries

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Science  02 Dec 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6316, pp. 1084-1085
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6316.1084

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Laos and its neighbors hungry for electric power are embarking on a dam-building spree on the Mekong River and on major tributaries that threatens to trigger a food security crisis. By blocking migration routes and cutting sediment flow to the Mekong delta, the projects could wipe out more than a third of the lower Mekong Basin's annual haul of river fish—a serious blow to the region's 60 million people. Hoping to forestall catastrophe, environmentalists and scientists are pressing the hydropower companies to incorporate "fish-friendly" turbines, ladders, and locks for migratory fish into their dam designs. At a meeting last month in Vientiane to discuss fish-passage approaches, some scientists saw reason for optimism. But others scoffed at the mitigation plans and believe that the only way to spare the fisheries is to drop some of the projects.