Quantifying biophysical and community impacts of improved fish passage in Lao PDR and Myanmar

Project code
AUD 2,646,017
Research program manager
Prof. Ann Fleming
Project leader
Lee Baumgartner - Charles Sturt University
JAN 2016
JUN 2021
Project status
Legally committed/Active
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Declining capture fisheries in Laos and Myanmar will be rehabilitated by a project facilitating greater adoption of fishway technology. 

In the Lower Mekong and Ayeyarwady Basins, long-term sustainability of vital capture fisheries – often the main source of protein and cash income for river communities – is threatened from increased water development projects which block important migration pathways for fish seeking access to critical nursery and feeding habitats. Detailed barrier-mapping has shown more than 8000 barriers to fish migration in just three tributary catchments. 

This project will evaluate the extent of fish migration barriers and the colonisation of riverine species in seasonal wetlands; quantify whether there is an annual increase in capture fishery production at sites where fishways have been constructed; quantify in social and economic terms, the options for constructing fishways at riverine infrastructure; and promote the uptake of project outputs to other Mekong countries and rivers in South-East Asia, especially in Myanmar.

Expected project outcomes

  • Understanding of the impact of fishway construction on the fish populations in wetlands, in terms of fish species’ ecology and productivity of capture fisheries. 
  • Insight into the potential scope for capture-fisheries rehabilitation using fishways at low head regulators.
  • Better knowledge of sustainable and low-cost fishway options for application in Laos and other countries in the Lower Mekong Basin (Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar) and Ayeyarwady Basin in Myanmar.
  • Greater ability for researchers, fisheries, managers and local communities to apply low-cost fishway technology at low head barriers in the Lower Mekong Basin.
  • Improved local economies through increased fisheries production, and associated nutritional and economic impacts where fishways are constructed.
  • Increased floodplain fisheries diversity and sustainability at the study site, and subsequently wherever fishways are constructed throughout the Lower Mekong Basin.
Key partners
Living Aquatic Resources Research Centre
National University of Laos
University of South Australia
fact sheet placeholder image
Fact sheet FIS/2014/041