Aquaculture is an important economic sector, source of livelihood, and contributor to the resilience of food systems across the Mekong region. In 2012, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam ranked among the top ten aquaculture producers globally. Thailand and Vietnam are the third- and fourth-largest exporters of fish and fishery products, valued at CA$10.6 billion and CA$8.3 billion respectively. Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam all have national policies that aim to increase aquaculture production significantly. However, the region is facing a warmer future with more frequent and severe weather events and rising sea levels that impact regional hydrology. Mekong aquaculture is already affected by floods, causing fish loss from ponds, damaging cages, and exhausting fish trying to maintain their position in the current, while droughts and low water levels impact water quality, increasing toxicity and fish death.
This project aims to help fish farmers in the region to manage climate-related risks and increase adaptive capacity by developing, evaluating, and supporting the uptake of promising innovations. The innovations include technologies such as wind- and solar-powered pond aerators; institutional and policy measures such as mutual or weather index-based insurance for risk transfer; and information-communication systems, including text messaging and Facebook groups. These will be piloted and adapted to different local contexts, and up-scaled across the five countries through a network of nationally based innovation specialists, each having a thematic project-wide coordinating role, and technical experts who will only work as needs arise.
This project is led by Chiang Mai University in Thailand with nodal partners across the Mekong region, including the Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute, Cambodia; National University of Laos; World Fish Centre, Myanmar; Ubon Ratchathani University, Thailand; and Can Tho University, Vietnam.