Mekong River

Dum Yai village fisher researchers

Collecting fisheries data with villagers in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand

Talking with a fisher in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand

Mekong River

The Mekong River Basin


The Mekong River is approximately 4,350 km long, and is the 12th longest river in the world and the 7th longest river in Asia. The Mekong River Basin drains 795,000 km2. Originating in the Tibetan Plateau, the Mekong River crosses southern China before passing Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, where the Mekong flows into the South China Sea.


The Mekong River Basin is home to a large variety of ethnic groups. Millions of people are heavily dependent on Mekong Basin fisheries for food and income. No wonder the Mekong River Basin supports the most important fresh-water fisheries in the world, with an estimated annual fish production in the basin of between 2.3 and 3 million tonnes annually. The freshwater environments of the Mekong River Basin support well over 500 species of fish, making the Mekong one of the most biodiverse rivers in the world.

Tracking Changes… in the Mekong River Basin


The Tracking Changes Project funded by SSHRC is working primarily with ethnic Lao people living in northeastern Thailand (particularly Ubon Ratchathani Province), southern Laos (particularly Champasak Province) and northeastern Cambodia (particularly Stung Treng Province) to investigate wild fish, fish migrations, and associated capture fisheries.


The work in the Mekong River Basin is being primarily coordinated by Dr. Ian Baird from the Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA ( and Dr. Kanokwan Manorom from the Faculty of Liberal Arts, Ubon Ratchathani University, Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand. A number of graduate students are expected to work on the project.


The research in the Mekong River Basin is initially focusing on collaborative research involving local people and local researchers in order to investigation how intimate knowledge about fish and fish migrations is disseminated through social networks that extend over space, including crossing national borders. We are also studying the dissemination of fish related knowledge between people, and across generations.


Ian Baird

University of Wisconsin – Madison

Kankowan Manoram

Ubon Ratchathani University