CSU team wins top honour for international fish passage project

A research team led by Charles Sturt University (CSU) has received the Distinguished Project Award for an international project seeking to protect the health and livelihoods of millions of people living in the Mekong Basin of Southeast Asia.

The team, led by Dr Lee Baumgartner, and their project titled “Fish passage research and development at low-head barriers in Southeast Asia”, received the honour from the international Fish Passage 2018 Conference today (12 December) in Albury.

Having attracted over $4 million from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and US Agency for International Development over the past eight years, Dr Baumgartner and his team of scientists and engineers are expanding a successful fishway project in Lao PDR across four other countries in the Mekong Basin – Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Read, see and hear more about the expanded project here

“The award recognises the collaborative efforts of the National University of Laos, the Lao Living Aquatic Resources Research Centre, Charles Sturt University’s Institute for Land, Water and Society, and the NSW Department of Primary Industries in developing effective fish passage criteria at low-head barriers in the Mekong River catchment in Lao PDR,” Dr Baumgartner said.

“From the start the diverse project team engaged with people on the ground and relevant Lao government departments in all aspects of the research.

“This has led to a new “fish passage curriculum” at the National University, while also involving the local community in fishway construction and monitoring.”

This project developed from a small project that commenced under the auspices of ACIAR in 2006.

It was considered by a panel of international judges as a best-practice exemplar of research in development, particularly considering the difficulties inherent in natural resource management in some developing countries.

“When we first started this project there was not even a word in the Lao language for fish ladder!”

“Little did we suspect that the Lao scientists that commenced in this project would now recognised globally as experts in fishways, and be leading implementation in other countries,” Dr Baumgartner said.

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