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Article

Conserving Mekong Megafishes: Current Status and Critical Threats in Cambodia

1
Department of Biology and Global Water Center, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557, USA
2
Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh 12156, Cambodia
3
Wonders of the Mekong Project, c/o Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute, Phnom Penh 12300, Cambodia
4
Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute, Fisheries Administration, Phnom Penh 12300, Cambodia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(6), 1820; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061820
Received: 2 June 2020 / Revised: 19 June 2020 / Accepted: 20 June 2020 / Published: 25 June 2020
Megafishes are important to people and ecosystems worldwide. These fishes attain a maximum body weight of ≥30 kg. Global population declines highlight the need for more information about megafishes’ conservation status to inform management and conservation. The northern Cambodian Mekong River and its major tributaries are considered one of the last refugia for Mekong megafishes. We collected data on population abundance and body size trends for eight megafishes in this region to better understand their conservation statuses. Data were collected in June 2018 using a local ecological knowledge survey of 96 fishers in 12 villages. Fishers reported that, over 20 years, most megafishes changed from common to uncommon, rare, or locally extirpated. The most common and rarest species had mean last capture dates of 4.5 and 95 months before the survey, respectively. All species had declined greatly in body size. Maximum body weights reported by fishers ranged from 11–88% of their recorded maxima. Fishers identified 10 threats to megafishes, seven of which were types of illegal fishing. Electrofishing was the most prevalent. Results confirm that Mekong megafishes are severely endangered. Species Conservation Strategies should be developed and must address pervasive illegal fishing activities, alongside habitat degradation and blocked migrations, to recover declining populations. View Full-Text
Keywords: megafauna; biodiversity; freshwater; conservation; body size; abundance; human impact; dams; endangered; local ecological knowledge megafauna; biodiversity; freshwater; conservation; body size; abundance; human impact; dams; endangered; local ecological knowledge
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MDPI and ACS Style

Campbell, T.; Pin, K.; Ngor, P.B.; Hogan, Z. Conserving Mekong Megafishes: Current Status and Critical Threats in Cambodia. Water 2020, 12, 1820. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061820

AMA Style

Campbell T, Pin K, Ngor PB, Hogan Z. Conserving Mekong Megafishes: Current Status and Critical Threats in Cambodia. Water. 2020; 12(6):1820. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061820

Chicago/Turabian Style

Campbell, Teresa, Kakada Pin, Peng B. Ngor, and Zeb Hogan. 2020. "Conserving Mekong Megafishes: Current Status and Critical Threats in Cambodia" Water 12, no. 6: 1820. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061820

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