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

  • Breaking: US House passes 'Cambodia Democracy Act'

    The US House of Representatives in Washington, DC, on Monday, passed the “HR 526 Cambodia Democracy Act”, also known as the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019. If signed off by the president, the bill will allow two major sets of action to be taken against high-ranking Cambodian

  • Shanxi wins bid to build sections of new Siem Reap airport

    Shanxi Mechanization Construction Group recently won the bid to build two sections of the new Siem Reap Angkor International Airport project in Cambodia for 290 million yuan ($42.16 million). The existing Angkor International Airport in Siem Reap, 5km from the famous ancient temple complex and world tourism

  • ‘Zero-dollar’ tours under fire

    Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has blamed “zero-dollar” tour operators for the decrease in foreign tourists to Angkor Archaeological Park in the first half of this year and has called for action against them. Angkor Archaeological Park received 1.24 million foreign visitors in the first half

  • Breaking: Rubbish found packed inside 83 containers at S'ville port

    Eighty-three containers packed with rubbish were broken open at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port by joint authorities on Tuesday. The origin of the containers has yet to be ascertained, Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said. Pheaktra, who is also the ministry’s secretary of state, said