, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 344–348 | Cite as

Fish Migration, Dams, and Loss of Ecosystem Services in the Mekong Basin

  • Patrick J. DuganEmail author
  • Chris Barlow
  • Angelo A. Agostinho
  • Eric Baran
  • Glenn F. Cada
  • Daqing Chen
  • Ian G. Cowx
  • John W. Ferguson
  • Tuantong Jutagate
  • Martin Mallen-Cooper
  • Gerd Marmulla
  • John Nestler
  • Miguel Petrere
  • Robin L. Welcomme
  • Kirk O. Winemiller


The past decade has seen increased international recognition of the importance of the services provided by natural ecosystems. It is unclear however whether such international awareness will lead to improved environmental management in many regions. We explore this issue by examining the specific case of fish migration and dams on the Mekong river. We determine that dams on the Mekong mainstem and major tributaries will have a major impact on the basin’s fisheries and the people who depend upon them for food and income. We find no evidence that current moves towards dam construction will stop, and consider two scenarios for the future of the fisheries and other ecosystems of the basin. We conclude that major investment is required in innovative technology to reduce the loss of ecosystem services, and alternative livelihood strategies to cope with the losses that do occur.


Mekong Inland fisheries Fish migration Dams Ecosystem services River development 



We thank E. Allison, N. Andrew, L, Baumgartner, M. Beveridge, A. Brooks, S. Hall, and B. Ratner for their comments on drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick J. Dugan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chris Barlow
    • 2
  • Angelo A. Agostinho
    • 3
  • Eric Baran
    • 4
  • Glenn F. Cada
    • 5
  • Daqing Chen
    • 6
  • Ian G. Cowx
    • 7
  • John W. Ferguson
    • 8
  • Tuantong Jutagate
    • 9
  • Martin Mallen-Cooper
    • 10
  • Gerd Marmulla
    • 11
  • John Nestler
    • 12
  • Miguel Petrere
    • 13
  • Robin L. Welcomme
    • 14
  • Kirk O. Winemiller
    • 15
  1. 1.WorldFish CenterPenangMalaysia
  2. 2.Australian Centre for International Agricultural ResearchCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.Fundação Universidade Estadual de MaringáMaringáBrazil
  4. 4.WorldFish CenterPhnom PenhCambodia
  5. 5.Oak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA
  6. 6.Yangtze River Fisheries Research InstituteJingzhou CityChina
  7. 7.Hull International Fisheries InstituteHullUK
  8. 8.Northwest Fisheries Science CenterSeattleUSA
  9. 9.Ubon Ratchathani UniversityUbon RatchathaniThailand
  10. 10.Fishway Consulting ServicesSt Ives ChaseAustralia
  11. 11.Food and Agriculture Organization of the United NationsRomeItaly
  12. 12.US Army Corps of EngineersConcordUSA
  13. 13.Universidade Estadual PaulistaRio ClaroBrazil
  14. 14.Stoke by ClareUK
  15. 15.Texas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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