Hydropower Development and the Neglect of Inland Capture Fisheries from a Food Systems Perspective

Richard Morris Friend*, Robert Arthur, Cecile Brugere, Ian G. Cowx, Bob Doherty, Sithirith Mak, Md. Monirul Islam, Fiona Nunan, Jouni Paavola, Bryce Donald Stewart, Chainarong Srettachau, Samarthia Thankappan, Chayan Vaddhanaphuti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper addresses why food security implications of projected losses to inland capture fisheries due to hydropower development have been neglected in policy arenas. Drawing on the case of the Lower Mekong Basin, this paper applies a conceptual framework for analyzing this question as a case of fundamental food system change. Four inter-related axes of change – narratives, actors, institutions and resources – constitute the framework for analyzing and challenging the dynamics and values of food systems change. Despite substantial scientific evidence on the nutritional and food security significance of the fisheries, and the magnitude of negative impacts of planned hydropower development, there has been no discernible shift in hydropower investment and related policy. The lack of attention to this food production loss is due to a broader transformation in food systems, itself shaped by powerful interests and values. Addressing the neglect of fisheries requires challenging this trajectory of food system change.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalSociety and Natural Resources
Early online date18 Jul 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jul 2023


  • Fisheries
  • Freshwater fisheries
  • Fisheries management
  • Food systems
  • Hydropower
  • Food security

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