Fishing in the world’s many lakes has been impacted by many environmental changes. No more so than the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia, which in the dry season, covers almost 1,000 square miles. During the wet season, May to November, the lake swells to 6,000 square miles and is the area’s main source of fish, as they flow from the Mekong River into the lake.
Due to illegal trawling in protected waters and changes in ecology, local, legal fishermen struggle to make a decent living. At one time, the Tonle Sap Lake was one of the largest inland fisheries, but now at least four types of fish have not been caught in recent years and others are smaller and fewer in numbers. Fish from the lake feeds 80 percent of the population and many thousands of tons of fish are exported to neighboring countries.
A string of hydro dams along the Mekong and its tributaries has also impacted problems facing the lake. These dams prevent fish migration and add to the vanishing fish dilemma. Between these additions, climate changes and droughts in recent years, locals fear there may not be enough fish for future generations. Many families living in the area for over 40 years have decided to move away from the place they love to ensure a better future. They are in debt and if they stay, there will come a time when they cannot afford to buy fruit and vegetables and will have to eat less.