Not too many of us are aware of the important role of the migratory fish in our ecosystem and livelihood. And more often than not, we’re not too keen to know it at all.
This is why the World Fish Migration Day is celebrated annually. The event serves as an active awareness campaign to improve the public’s understanding on the importance of migratory fish, the need for healthy rivers, the communities that depend on both and the options we can do to minimise hazards against them.
On April 21, Cambodia joined the world in the celebration. At least 75 young students rode on 15 boats for a tour around the Mekong River. The students learned about the migratory fish population of the river and were encouraged to take part in ensuring a safe passageway for this species. The event was a joint project of the Wonders of the Mekong, Young Eco Ambassador and the World Fish Migration Day organisation.
Chann Kimsan, one of the team members behind the successful cause-oriented event, said that he learned many things about migratory fish – when they produce eggs and when these eggs hatch.
“When I stayed on the land, I didn’t know anything about the life in the water. When I experienced it myself, going into the river and see the fish species, I was at awe. Merely hearing it through stories is very different from seeing it personally. There are so many kinds of fish in our river. Fishermen earn money for their family through it,” said Mr Kimsan.
Mr Kimsan added that during the Mekong River tour, students raised questions on fish kinds and conservation.
Al Robinn, who had been an angler on the river ever since he was young, shared that it is not easy to catch fish. He had to stay on the boat the whole day, sometimes until nighttime, for the fish to come.
“I catch and sell fish to support my family. But this year, there’s been too little catch compared before. When it rains or the waves are high and strong, I can’t go out to fish; which means, I don’t have money for the family,” he explained. Despite his present dilemma, Mr Robinn said he wants to keep his fishing method legal and non-hazardous.
Many migratory fish species are now severely threatened. Sadly, the main causes are man-made. As people cling into modernity – building dams, weirs and sluices – the natural flow of rivers is disrupted. This eventually prevents the fish migration. Many fish that need to migrate for reproduction and feeding are left to die, unable to complete their life cycles.
Migratory fish make up a crucial link in the food chain and plays an important role in healthy and productive river systems. Furthermore, they provide an important food supply and livelihood for millions of people around the world.