Freshwater, Fish and the Future: Proceedings of the Global Cross-Sectoral Conference

Freshwater Fisheries Harvest Replacement Estimates (Land and Water) for Protein and the Micronutrients Contribution in the Lower Mekong River Basin and Related Countries

David Lymer, Felix Teillard, Carolyn Opio, and Devin M. Bartley

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9789251092637.ch16

Abstract.—Freshwater capture fisheries in the lower Mekong River basin (LMRB) contribute from 17% to 22% of the officially reported global inland capture fisheries catch. Several dams have been proposed on the Mekong River and its tributaries that will impact these fisheries. It has been estimated that the harvest from freshwater capture fisheries in the LMRB could decline by 880,000 metric tons in 2030 if all dam construction proceeds as planned.

To reflect the consequences of lost fisheries in the LMRB, we reviewed existing data and calculated the contribution freshwater fisheries make to human protein, nutrient, and mineral requirements. We further calculated how much additional land and water would be required to replace lost fish protein in the LMRB with four other animal protein sources: beef, chicken, pork, and milk.

Replacing fish with beef was found to be the most costly; to replace the fish harvest in the LMRB estimated to be lost due to dam construction with beef would require 3.6% of the total discharge of the Mekong River, which is equivalent to a 28% increase in water withdrawal compared to current levels.