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Assessing fisheries and environmental impacts and proposing policy recommendations for sustainable development of Mekong River Basin

Since its establishment in 1995, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) has been involved in the collection of data and the development of models, both conceptual and mathematical, aimed at demonstrating and improving the understanding of the functioning of aquatic ecosystems and links between the people and the river, and aiding policy and decision-making in the Lower Mekong River Basin. The objective of basin-wide fisheries and environmental assessment is to provide clear and comparable information on the impacts of proposed hydropower and other key sector developments on the aquatic ecosystems and their fisheries and other aquatic resources of Mekong River downstream of the China border, inclusive of the Tonle Sap Great Lake and the Mekong Delta. The DRIFT Flows process and Decision Support System (DSS) referred to in the MRC Council Study as the BioRA-DSS, were used to organise existing MRC data, information in the international scientific literature and expert opinion from a highly-qualified and experienced team of river scientists to provide a systemic and systematic picture for the LMB, Tonle Sap River, Tonle Sap Great Lake and the Mekong Delta ecosystems in terms of (1) their ecological condition; (2) possible future changes in condition as a result of development-driven changes in the water flow, sediment supply and transport, water quality, and lateral and longitudinal connectivity as described through the evaluation of the water-resource development scenarios; and (3) predictions of change in abundance/area/concentration (relative to baseline) for a range of key fish and other bioresources indicators. Last but not least, policy recommendations were proposed for Mekong countries’ Prime Ministers and Ministers of Water Resources for basin planning and sustainable management and development of the Mekong River Basin.