The Australian and Cambodian governments are cooperating by investing in technology together to protect fish, boost river health and increase climate resilience in Cambodia.

The Australian embassy said in a September 1 press statement that Australian ambassador Pablo Kang and Andrew Campbell, CEO of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), together met with Khun Savoeun, secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Poum Sotha, director-general of the Fisheries Administration, to jointly-announce the FishTech project planned for Kampong Thom province.

The project will facilitate fish passages or "fish ladders" that help, allow and sustain fish migration in irrigation and weirs, leading to stronger fisheries production, greater biodiversity and local income generation.

"Managing and protecting water and related resources is becoming increasingly critical in this region, with its fast-paced economic development, population growth, and changing climate. Fisheries are key to Cambodia's food security and also provide work and livelihood benefits for around two million Cambodians. Australia is partnering with Cambodia to protect fish, boost river health, and increase climate resilience through the FishTech project," Kang said.

FishTech will be managed by ACIAR led by Professor Lee Baumgartner from Australia's Charles Sturt University.

Professor Campbell said that fish provide 60 per cent of all protein consumed by humans in the Mekong basin.

Typically, he explained, Mekong fish species migrate upstream to breed and come back down again to complete their life cycles. However, structures like irrigation weirs or hydroelectric dams block fish migration upstream or downstream, ultimately threatening the food security of the region.

“This investment is a clear example of the Australian government working with country partners to deliver innovative new technology to protect native fish and boost river health across the Mekong basin," he said.

Australia will provide AUD5 million over three years until 2025 toward the FishTech project through the Mekong-Australia Partnership. Most activities will be implemented in Cambodia and Laos PDR with Vietnam and Thailand participating in training activities.