21 May 2024

Twenty Mekong giant catfish, the largest weighing 182kgs, have been caught in the three days since officials at the Kaeng Krachan Dam in Thailand’s central province of Phetchaburi opened the fishing season, which lasts until January 15th with a total catch limit of just 50 catfish. 

The chief of the anti-poaching unit at the dam, said that fishermen must comply with the rules covering the type of fishing equipment used, adding that the decision to allow the catching of the big fish is intended to maintain its population at an appropriate level.

He said that off-season fishing is prohibited and if one is caught, the fisherman will be made to release 500 of the species back into the dam.

Villagers living around the dam welcome the catfish season, saying that it will enable them to make some income. The fish fetches 100 baht per kilogram if dead or 150 baht if still alive, as some people want to release the fish into fish parks.

Hunters do not even need to bring their catch to the market for sale, as traders will come to them to buy the fish.

None of the Mekong giant catfish, in this and other dams in Thailand, are native. They were introduced by the Fisheries Department’s artificial breeding programme, using fry of the wild-caught and endangered Mekong giant catfish, to save the fish from becoming extinct.  No wild catch from the Mekong River has been reported for the past several years, partly due to the blocking of the river by upstream dams in China.