As fish dwindle, communities will have to look for alternative sources of protein, such as livestock and poultry. Raising these will require more land and water, and be prohibitively expensive.
"People talk about food security in relation to dams but we need to put the numbers to what that really means," says Stuart Orr, freshwater manager at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International and co-author of the study published in the October issue of Global Environmental Change.
Orr presented the study at the Third Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, convened by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research's (CGIAR) Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF), in Hanoi, Vietnam, this month (November 13-14).
Orr says that if all 88 planned dams were developed, Mekong communities would be faced with sourcing close to 40 per cent of lost fish protein from other sources.
And to replace fish protein with domestic livestock protein would require up to 63 per cent more pasture lands and up to 17 per cent more water, the study says.
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