THERE USED TO BE A GREAT MEKONG LIKE THAT

• Mekong river is considered “the milk of mother nature” and “the mother of all rivers” that provides food, water and works to some 20 million Vietnamese inhabitats who live along her shores. In food security terms, the river has beeen “the feeder” to 60 million people living along its banks and to those who are partly depended on its exported products such as Pangasius, fresh water prawns,…
• However, the beauty and the generosity of the river is over-exploited by over-fishing, dams building, sand exploit, water polluting. Corollary, Mekong river is now facing the impacts of : dried up; decreases in aquatic animal species and volumes; water polluted; water exracted ; river banks collapsed.
• In facing these various threats, what may be the best solution to Mekong’s wild life, fishery and to its inhabitants’ food security? Along with more efforts to be put in wild fish conservation, more intensive aquaculture should be implemented, especially to high-value species.
• [The major farmed freshwater species in Vietnam Mekong river include Indian carps (Labeo rohita, Cirrhina molitorella); Chinese carps (Cyprinus carpio, Ctenopharygodon idellus, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus); indigenous catfish (Pangasius bocourti and P.hypophthalmus), sand goby (Oxyeleotris marmoratus), climbing perch (Anabas testudineus), silver barb (Puntius gonionotus) and giant freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii). Targeted species are either cultured for local consumption (Indian carps, Chinese carps, silver barb, tilapia) or export (catfishes, sand goby and freshwater prawns]. In particular, the giant freshwater prawn is considered to be an important target of further aquaculture development, especially in consideration of the national policy of diversification of farming practices such as to expand rice farming to rice-prawn farming systems.
• Fishery and the poor alongside the river’s banks seem to be most vulnerable to those impacts. Ironically, they are the main labor-forces that directly involve in aquacultural activities. The poor’s access to wetwater lands, to better policy and governance, and especially to intensive aquaculture know-how, however, still be very limited. The sooner this situation is brighten up by sound and proper care, the less the Mekong and our food security threatened.

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