Mekong Utility Watch

Large ships or large fish?

IUCN – The World Conservation Union
January 13, 2003

IUCN urges the Governments that share the Mekong River to fully consider the threats to biodiversity imposed by the blasting of shoals and rapids undertaken as part of the Upper Mekong Navigation Improvement Project.

The Project proposes the blasting of 21 rapids, shoals and reefs in the river as part of a scheme to allow 500-tonne ships to navigate the river. Economically important fish species as well as fish species on the verge of extinction, such as the giant catfish, depend on these rapids and shoals. The blasting of their habitat may put these fish in danger and increase the risk of their extinction. “The Mekong is home to an estimated 1200 species and is
only surpassed in richness by the Amazon and Congo rivers”, said Dr. Jean-Christophe Vi‚, Deputy Coordinator of the IUCN Species Programme.

“We do not know the impact on many species but the case of the giant catfish is particularly worrying. The giant catfish is already listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the proposed blasting of its only known spawning site will detrimentally affect it. There is a serious risk of driving this extraordinary fish to extinction”.

Categories: Mekong Utility Watch

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