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Assessing upstream fish migration measures at Xayaburi Dam in Lao PDR

Project Code: FIS/2017/017
Program: Fisheries
Research Program Manager: Dr Ann Fleming
Project Leader: Lee Baumgartner
SEP 2019
AUG 2022
Project Status: Legally Committed/Active


The project ultimately aims to develop research methods than can be used to determine the overall effectiveness of the fish pass facilities.

Productive fisheries in the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) will be negatively impacted if all planned large-scale mainstem hydropower dams are completed. There are presently nine large hydropower dams scheduled for the mainstem of the Mekong River in Lao PDR, and two more in Cambodia that have divided public opinion. On one hand, there are those who clearly see the benefits of dam construction for creating jobs, supplying and exporting electricity and reducing poverty. On the other hand, there is concern about the impacts on the livelihoods of people currently dependent on the river, and the difficulties of mitigating those impacts.

Expected Outcomes

  • Develop a suite of robust techniques to assess performance of mainstem dam fishways in the Mekong catchment.
  • Assess upstream fish passage within the Xayaburi Dam fish pass facilities.
  • Provide a standard for monitoring and constructing other mainstem dam fishways in the Mekong catchment.
  • Enable enhanced operations at Xayaburi to ensure fish passage is fully integrated into day-to-day dam operations. 
  • Improve the design of other fish passes at future mainstem dams.