Last update 7/22/2012 1:00:00 PM (GMT+7)

Giant Mekong catfish died at fish farm
VietNamNet Bridge – The 86kg giant Mekong catfish died at a breeding fish farm in the southern province of An Giang, said the chief of An Giang Fishery Department, Mr. Tran Anh Dung on July 24.

Mr. Huynh Thanh Hong, chief police officer of Quoc Thai commune, who paid nearly VND16 million ($800) to purchase the fish from fishermen, said the fish was very healthy when it was transported to the fish farm.

At the fish farm, Hong saw several women applying some medicine on the fish and releasing it to a pond, not doing anything which could be called “special care” as experts had told him before.

Meanwhile, Dung explained that the fish was dead because it was wounded when it was caught by fishermen.

The fish was netted on July 21 in Cay Kim Bay on the Hau River, An Giang Province. Hong bought the fish and then gave it to experts of the An Giang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to take care the fish. However, the giant fish died immediately on the day it was released to a pond of a breeding fish farm in Phu Hiep commune.

Two weeks ago, Hong also bought a 71kg giant Mekong catfish for preservation but the fish also died after several days.

The Mekong giant catfish, Pangasianodon gigas, is a species of catfish (order Siluriformes) in the shark catfish family (family Pangasiidae), native to the Mekong basin in Southeast Asia.

The Mekong giant catfish is perhaps the most interesting and most threatened species in the Mekong River. For this reason conservationists have chosen it as a sort of “flagship” species to promote conservation on the Mekong. With recorded sizes of up to 10.5ft (3.2m) and 660lb (300kg), the Mekong’s giant catfish currently holds the Guinness Book of World Records' position for the world’s largest freshwater fish.

Endemic to the lower half of the Mekong River, this catfish is in danger of extinction due to over-fishing, as well as the decrease in water quality due to development and upstream damming. The current IUCN Red List for fishes classes the species as Critically Endangered; the number living in the wild is unknown, but catch data indicates the population has fallen by 80 percent in the last 14 years. It is also listed in Appendix I of CITES, banning international trade.

The giant catfish at the fish farm:

Quoc Huy-Bao Khanh