Native Silver Barbs Replenish Nakai Fish Stocks
Fish stocks in the Nakai Reservoir in Khammouane province, Laos, received a boost on July 22 2009, when district authorities and the Nam Theun 2 Power Company (NTPC) released more than 30,000 native fingerlings.
The fish, an indigenous species on Nakai, were supplied to NTPC by the Living Aquatic Resources Research Centre (LARReC), a branch of the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute. Nakai District Vice-Governor Liengkham Phengouthai and district agriculture service officials conducted a short ceremony before releasing the fish into the reservoir. Mr Liengkham called the exercise an “important part of the sustainable management of the reservoir as a vital part of livelihoods on Nakai”.
The reservoir, created in 2007-2008, when the Nakai Dam was completed as part of the Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Project, stores water from the Nam Theun River and some tributaries. This water is to be piped 350 metres down from the Nakai Plateau to the Power Station on the Gnommalath Plain, where electricity will be generated for export and domestic use. Government revenues from the Project will be used to fund poverty alleviation efforts across the country.
The reservoir has also provided a huge windfall fishery for residents of the Nakai Plateau, who in late 2008 saw their fish catches swell to at least five times what they caught before the reservoir was created. Villagers and officials are aware that such catches cannot be sustained unless the fishery is properly managed, and have set up a Reservoir Management Committee to establish fishing rights and regulations.
NTPC is helping this Committee to establish a stocking programme that will give native fish species a better opportunity of forming stable populations in the reservoir. This will contribute to local income while preserving the rich aquatic biodiversity of the area. Local people prefer the taste of native fish, which fetch a better price on the market.
According to NTPC Fisheries Team Leader Khamtanh Vatthanatham, the limited depth of the reservoir means it is ideal for Silver Barb fish and for species such as "pa keung" (catfish), which were released on Nakai last year. Mr Khamtanh said that NTPC is working with local authorities to develop fish management and research techniques, and that hopefully they would in future be able to breed native fish stocks on Nakai itself.
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The Nam Theun 2 Power Company (NTPC) is the developer and operator of the Nam Theun 2 Hydroelectric Project in the Lao PDR. The Project is a public-private partnership designed to generate electricity for export to Thailand and domestic use in Laos. Revenues accruing to the Lao government during NTPC's concession period are to be used to fund poverty alleviation in the country. Nam Theun 2 is structured as an industrial and a development Project which places great emphasis on protection of the environment and sustainable social programmes that will improve the livelihoods of people in the Project area. After 25 years of operation from 2010, the Project will be transferred to the Lao State.