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The Path Forward to Sustain Natural Food Production in the Mekong River

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Photo by Robert Metz on Unsplash

John Sabo

Hydropower dams radically alter river flow regimes, often with consequences for the functioning and productivity of the waters downstream. Where fisheries in large tropical river systems are affected, there can be knock-on effects on food security. For the Mekong River, researchers used a data-based time series modeling approach to estimate the features of the flow regime that optimize the fishery that is crucial to food security in Cambodia. Fish futures can be maximized within a managed hydrologic system with careful prescription of flows.

John Sabo headshot

Given the development trajectory of the Mekong, one of the most needed technologies is data-driven dam operations coordinated across national boundaries. Professor John Sabo will discuss his work, which provides proof of concept for this intervention and its potential to sustain food security. More broadly, such data-driven approaches can be used to link hydrology to ecology and food production and specify design principles that could help to deliver food security in other river systems. Sabo is a professor of river ecology and water resources in the School of Life Sciences and founding director of Future H2O in the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development at Arizona State University.