The community at Dun Ei, a fishing village 180 kilometers northwest of Phnom Penh, has been making a living through fishing along the Pursat River for generations. In recent years, however, river structures, such as dams and dikes, have been preventing fish from migrating upstream to their spawning and rearing grounds. For most of the year, fish have become scarce along the Pursat, forcing villagers to leave their homes in search of work. Those left behind face difficult livelihood and an uncertain future.
To address the problem, the Cambodian Government partnered with the U.S. Department of Interior (USDOI), the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), and the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to install a fish passage. A concrete ladder was constructed at Kbal Hong Dam in the Pursat River, a main tributary of Tonle Sap Lake, Southeast Asia’s largest lake, to provide a route for more than 100 fish species to swim past the 4-metre-high barrier, reopening around 100 km of the river.