Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Laos dam, poison blamed in Stung Treng fish deaths

Laos dam, poison blamed in Stung Treng fish deaths

A fisherman pulls in a net near the location of the Don Sahong hydropower dam construction site in southern Laos. International Rivers
A fisherman pulls in a net near the location of the Don Sahong hydropower dam construction site in southern Laos. International Rivers

Laos dam, poison blamed in Stung Treng fish deaths

Hundreds of kilograms of dead fish have washed up on the shores of the Mekong in Stung Treng’s Thala Barivat district in the past month, and while environmental activists blame construction of the controversial Don Sahong dam upstream, officials yesterday said the fish are being “poisoned” by Lao fishermen.

“We saw that a lot of dead fish flowed from the upper Mekong in Lao,” said O’Svay commune chief Roth Sun, who believes the fish were poisoned near the border.

Villagers have collected some 400 to 500 kilograms of fish, and several fell ill from eating them, Sun said, adding that commune authorities found cooked rice with a “blue substance” inside the fish bodies, prompting them to warn villagers against eating the fish.

Sim Kosal, 23, from nearby Preah Romkil commune suspects the Don Sahong construction is to blame, a viewed shared by activists.

“Fish have died since the construction started . . . [and] the water quality is worse than last year,” he said.

Pen Chhundy, provincial Fishery Administration director, yesterday was unaware of the deaths but said that an inspection following fish deaths in the district last month found that illegal poison-based fishing practices by Laotians were to blame.

NGO Forum executive director Tek Vannara said the dam construction’s impact on water quality is likely the cause of not just the fish deaths but also the death of two Irrawaddy dolphins this year and possibly the deaths of some 355 cattle in Stung Treng since April. “We must investigate,” he said.

Additional reporting by Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

MOST VIEWED

  • Stock photo agencies cash in on Khmer Rouge tragedy
    Stock-photo companies selling images from S-21 raises ethics concerns

    A woman with short-cropped hair stares directly into the camera, her head cocked slightly to the side. On her lap is a sleeping infant just barely in the frame. The woman was the wife of a Khmer Rouge officer who fell out of favour, and

  • Prime Minister: Take back islands from inactive developers

    The government will “take back” land on roughly 30 islands from private companies that have not made progress on planned developments, Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech on Monday that also targeted land-grabbing villagers and idle provincial governors. Speaking at the inauguration of the

  • Land on capital’s riverfront is opened up for investment

    The government has signed off on a proposal to designate more than 9 hectares of land along Phnom Penh’s riverfront as state-private land, opening it up for private investment or long-term leasing. The 9.25-hectare stretch of riverfront from the capital’s Night Market to the

  • Royal Group's Koh Rong luxury hotel officially opens

    The Royal Sands Koh Rong hotel on Monday marked its official launch as the first luxury resort on Cambodia’s most visited island. Prime Minister Hun Sen presided over the inauguration of the hotel, which has been open since December, and features rooms priced at