The Mekong River Commission has recorded nearly 500 species of fish in the Mekong river basin, with the majority of them native to Cambodian territories.
Previously, the MRC and researches had estimated that there were 1,148 species of fish.
However, MRC said in a news release yesterday that it has updated its Mekong Fish Species Database by identifying 474 species of fish monitored between 2003 and 2017 in member countries, noting that 80 percent are migratory fish.
It added that 225 species are native to the rivers of Sekong, Sesan and Srepok, spanning northeast Cambodia, southern Laos and the central highlands of Vietnam.
It also said that 137 migratory species of fish were identified in the Tonle Sap river, home to the largest commercial fishery in the Mekong river basin.
“But with the review of other studies from multiple sources, it was estimated that the Mekong basin had a larger figure of 1,148 fish species,” it said.
“For the first time, our database provides a comprehensive list of Mekong fish species with their key bio-ecological characteristics collected from our own monitoring and other studies,” said MRC secretariat CEO Pham Tuan Phan.
Mr Pham said the database can aid fish assessments, including species composition, abundance, stock and distribution, and bio-ecological and population dynamics studies.
“Our knowledge about fish and fisheries in the basin has advanced, but challenges remain now [including] how we can preserve these resources in the face of rapid development and changing climate,” he said.
Chheng Phen, deputy director of Fisheries Administration, said previous studies have shown more than 498 species of freshwater fish in Cambodia.
However, he added, actual samples only found about 330.
“Knowing the number of fish species, the amount of fish and the place where fish spawn is important to the management of freshwater fish in Cambodia,” Mr Phen said. “However, this work requires many resources over a long period of time. So the Fisheries Administration is continuing this work under a large part of the government’s budget and other sources, including the MRC itself.”
According to the MRC, the lower Mekong basin is home to the largest fisheries, with an estimated annual yield of 4.4 million tonnes, with a value of about $17 billion. It added that more than 40 million people are actively involved in the sector.