PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Officials have mixed feelings over whether low rains or upstream dams are influencing the rice and fishing sectors in Cambodia, authorities said.
Roughly 45 percent of the Cambodian population depends on fishing in the Mekong and Tonle Sap river basins. The rainy season that typically starts in July but came a month late this year and non-governmental organizations are expecting a dramatic impact on fishing.
"We expect the impact to be very strong," Nao Thuok, director of the Fisheries Administration, told the U.N.'s humanitarian news agency IRIN.
Biologists say lower water levels are harming the spawning grounds of many fish species, limiting fish production and migration.
Meanwhile, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization predicts the rice output from Cambodia would fall 22 percent for 2010 compared with last year because of lower water levels.
Rice is a staple crop in Cambodia and requires more water than other crops.
Environmentalists said four dams upstream in China and the nine others under construction in Laos and Cambodia are making for shallow waters in the Mekong River.
The Mekong River Commission, however, said the dams aren't influencing downstream water levels.