– This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on May 11, Wednesday.
Welcome to CNBC Business Daily, I'm Qian Chen.
Among this week's commodity series, we take a look at how the fishing industry has been hit by El Nino.
The sprawling Mekong Delta has been worst hit by salination in a region that provides half of Vietnam's rice and 60 percent of its shrimp and fish.
Low river levels have allowed seawater to penetrate 90 kms (56 miles) inland, ruining vast swathes of cropland in the fertile delta. Vietnam says the salt water intrusion in the delta is unprecedented.
It could be the new normal along the mighty Mekong, the 4,900 km (3,044 mile) river that sustains 60 million livelihoods as it flows through Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Moreover, the delta, much of which is only two metres or less above sea level, has been sinking in recent years due to rising sea levels and heavy groundwater extraction from an ever increasing number of wells. Depleted water tables cause the ground to compact, allowing seawater to intrude into cropland and water supplies.
To Viet Tien, 61, has been raising shrimp since 1982 and has never seen it so bad. "It's been too hot towards the bottom of the pond and shrimp can't stand it," he said. "On this (salty) soil, it's impossible to switch to another crop," Tien said.
Southwest of the delta in Bac Lieu, a major shrimp-raising province, signs are planted on dried-up shrimp ponds advertising land for sale or for lease.
Vietnam, a major shrimp exporter to the United States, produced 91,900 tonnes in the January-March period, down 1 percent from a year ago, government data says.
At a meeting in Vietnam on Tuesday 26 April, officials from the country's agriculture ministry and the United Nations estimated that at least two million people in southern and central Vietnam lack clean water, with 1.1 million also in need of food support.
Vietnam needs international aid worth US$48.5 million, and China has already released water from a dam in its southwestern province of Yunnan to help alleviate a drought in parts of Southeast Asia.
Challenges remain, however -- back downstream, the stakes are staggeringly high, particularly for the poor who rely so heavily on the river for sustenance. "A major issue that needs to be addressed along the Mekong is food security, in particular sustained capture fish production," said Eric Baran, senior scientist at the NGO WorldFish. "The fish yield in Cambodia, for instance, is superior to the cattle, pig and chicken production all together - it provides 81% of the animal protein supply in the country."
CNBC's Qian Chen, reporting from Singapore.