The Cambodian Fishery Coalition Calls for Cancellation of the Lower Sesan 2 Dam

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Cambodian Fishery Coalition is a community-based organization created by the protection network of Fishery Communities and Fishermen in Cambodia, which was established in 2005 with three main areas (Tonle Sap Lake surrounded by 6 provinces, coastal areas surrounded by 3 provinces and the Mekong River surrounded by 5 provinces).  Today, the coalition has submitted a letter to the Prime Ministers of Cambodia and Vietnam urging them to cancel the Lower Sesan 2 Dam, in order to protect the Mekong River Basin’s abundant fisheries.

Hydropower Dams which are being constructed along the Upper Mekong River in China have changed the river’s water flows and have impacted the Lake’s fish sanctuary. When the hydropower dams were established, the community people living around the Tonle Sap Lake were severely affected, as they have transformed fish resources and lead to progressive loss.

The Tonle Sap Lake has a close connection with the Mekong River, which provides fishery resources and land fertile for the cultivation of rice and other agricultural plants. Approximately 1.2 million people residing along National Road 5 and 6 utterly rely on the Tonle Sap Lake, which is considered the heart of Cambodia. It has provided huge and enormous yields of fish supply and perfectly supports living conditions and exports. The Tonle Sap Lake is biodiverse, with 250-350 fish species, 40-60  reptiles, 200-250 birds, and 40-50 of mammals.   These fishery resources would be lost in the rivers, streams, and the Tonle Sap Lake if the Lower Sesan 2 Hydropower Dam is constructed in Stung Treng province.  These changes will bring serious burdens to the Royal Government and will negatively impact communities living around these areas, as well as the country as a whole.

According to a scientific report of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), if the Lower Sesan 2 hydropower dam is constructed, the entire Mekong River Basin’s fish biomass will drop by 9.3 percent.  More than 56 fish species are also likely to become endangered.  This means the income from fishing resoures of about 800 million per year will be lost and this amount of loss is equal to the dam project’s USD 816 million cost. A study by the Mekong River Commission has estimated a total value of fishing occupation within the Mekong Basin from USD 5.6 million to USD 9.4 billion. Therefore, the Lower Sesan 2 Hydropower Dam would lead to a loss of USD 520 million to USD 874 million per year, especially affecting the poor.  If built, the Lower Sesan 2 Dam will also severely affect sediment flows, which supply important nutrients to our agricultural fields and Vietnam's Mekong Delta.  Experts from the International Center for Environmental Management (ICEM) in Vietnam have said the dam would reduce 6 to 8 percent of the Mekong River's sediment flows.

The Lower Sesan 2 Hydropower Dam will be built by the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) and Cambodia’s Royal Group, and will lead to the resettlement of 5,000 people.   The dam will also impact approximately 100,000 (one hundred thousands) people in Stung Treng, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri provinces, along with thousands of other inhabitants residing next to the Mekong River Basin, who will be severely affected from the project’s innumerable adverse impacts on the fishing occupation in Cambodia, including the Tonle Sap Lake and Mekong’s tributaries, and other areas of Vietnam, Lao PDR and Thailand.  

Media contacts: 
  • Leng Bo, Phone: 092 438 266
  • Lor Chhien, Phone: 012 248 635
  • Ke Sothy, Phone: 076 700 8399
  • Long Sochet, Phone: +855 (0) 11 36 31 34/012 989 318, Email: (Khmer/English)
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