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Fishermen call for river pollution to be addressed

Members of a large fishing community in Naxab village, Naxaithong district, Vientiane, are appealing to authorities to address the problem of farms dumping animal waste in the Khon River, which they say is creating a threat to fishing.
The polluted river affects some 1,648 people who depend on fishing for their livelihood and also poses a threat to fish species.
Village representatives say the bad smells began in 2019 but have got worse this year.

There are pig and chicken farms by the river, whose owners dispose of waste directly into the river without prior treatment, they claim.
“As can be seen, the river is very dirty compared to five years ago. Wherever you go, it smells bad,” one villager said.
Another resident said “If we liken the river to a human being, it’s like an artery and is essential for fishing and the life of our community.”
The Khon River has provided food as well as a source of income for local people for many generations. The river not only supports the local fishing community but is also used by thousands of people who come from nearby villages to fish.
Village representatives complained about the bad smell to the Nam Kieng village group in Naxaithong district last year. It was hoped the message would be passed on to district authorities and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, but the matter has still not been resolved.
Many farms continue to dispose of waste in violation of the Wildlife and Aquatic Law, ignoring the impacts on fishing and the risk of losing fish and other aquatic species.
According to a 2018 report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Laos has more than 500 indigenous fish species and is home to rare and endangered wildlife species found nowhere else in the world.
“We have voices but lack the power to speak. So we hope those in a higher position will be able to help our community resolve this problem. We depend on the river, which will provide future generations with income and food, as well being a habitat for fish species,” a villager said.
If the problem continues, there are concerns that within the next two weeks, if the water level drops, fish and other aquatic species will die due to a lack of oxygen.
Villagers say that some fish species such as the giant snakehead as well as some types of shellfish have already disappeared from the river.
Environmental experts say that because the Khon River flows into the Nam Khem and  Nam Ngum rivers in Vientiane, if polluted water reaches these rivers it could affect other aquatic habitats, as well as tourism, bathing and people’s way of life.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update
June 24,
2021)


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