World's largest freshwater fish caught in the Mekong

Posted on 30 June 2005  | 
Mekong River, Thailand – Thai fishermen netted what is thought to be the world’s biggest freshwater fish in the Mekong River – a 292kg Mekong giant catfish.
“This catfish is as heavy as a grizzly bear. It’s amazing to think that giants like this still swim in some of the world’s rivers," said Jamie Pittock, Head of the WWF’s Global Freshwater Programme. 

"But sadly, this species could be gone within the next few years if nothing is done to save it.”

As Southeast Asia's largest and rarest fish, and one of a number of giant fish species under investigation in a WWF and National Geographic Society (NGS) joint conservation project, WWF hopes that the catch will highlight the plight of this critically endangered fish species.

The Mekong River Basin, where WWF has worked for more than ten years, is home to more species of giant fish than any other river on earth. It is also the most productive river fishery in the world, generating US$1.4 billion each year, and providing the primary source of protein for much more than the 73 million people that live along the river. 

A century ago the Mekong giant catfish was found the entire length of the river from Vietnam to southern China. Today, the population is in decline with scientists estimating that the number has decreased by about 90 per cent in the past 20 years. 

Dams are often cited as one of the major threats facing catfish as they block migration routes. Without the ability to move up and down rivers, the fish have fewer opportunities to breed.  

“Due to the precarious state of the Mekong giant catfish and other large fish, the effort to protect these amazing creatures is a race against the clock," said Dr Zeb Hogan, a WWF conservation science fellow.

"We must act now before species like the Mekong giant catfish are gone forever.” 

For further information:
Lisa Hadeed, Communications Manager
WWF Global Freshwater Programme
Tel: +41 22 364 9030

Brian Thomson, Press Officer
WWF International
Tel: +41 22 364 9562
A Giant Mekong catfish caught by local fishermen in Chiang Khong, Thailand, weighed in at 292kg – the largest of its type to be recorded since 1981.
© WWF / Suthep Kritsanavarin Enlarge

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