Growing up to 10 feet (3 meters) long and weighing over 600 pounds (270 kilograms), the Mekong giant catfish is one of the largest freshwater fish on earth. The Mekong giant catfish is endangered, and has been listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species since the early 1990s.
The Mekong giant catfish is the largest of the six species of Pangasianodon, a genus in the shark catfish family (Pangasiidae) found only in rivers of Southeast Asia.
The species' demise in Cambodia was caused by many factors: decades of war, deforestation, overfishing and dams that blocked spawning migrations upriver to spawning grounds. The latter, especially, has had a particularly devastating effect on the species; it is believed that over 90% of the fish were wiped out when an upstream dam was built in China (Ngoun, 2006). Illegal fishing and poaching also contributed to their decline.
As few as 4 individuals are known to exist today. Hence, it is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. There are currently three known individuals remaining in Laos and one each in Thailand and Myanmar.
The single surviving specimen in Cambodia was reportedly last seen in 2007. However, there have been reports that the fish may still be able to migrate upstream beyond the dam to its historical spawning grounds in Cambodia.
The IUCN has proposed to establish a captive breeding program for the Mekong giant catfish to save the species from extinction. Other options are the relocation of individual specimens or introducing fish to other areas where they might have better chances of survival. It has also been suggested that the fish may have survived in Cambodia after 2007, but the government has denied these claims.
Mekong giant catfish are critically endangered due to habitat loss, overfishing, and poaching. Giant catfish were formerly widespread throughout the Mekong River until the construction of dams halted their migratory routes upstream to spawning areas. The giant catfish is threatened by illegal fishing for large fish, especially juveniles. Giant catfish are also poached for food and traditional medicine.
Download our new Husfarm App
Stay up to date with the current prieces of agricultural products all over the world.
Do you want to sell agricultural products? Are you an Agricultural processor looking for high-quality products to buy? Post an ad for FREE!