Conservation of the Mekong Catfish

Where can I find the Mekong Giant catfish, and how would I catch one?

Throughout the various answers and articles that are posted on this website, catfishing is always treated as a fun, sporting, acceptable and indeed, encouraged venture, something that the whole family should get involved in, with everyone catching lots of fish. However, all these comments were made regarding the three main species of North American catfish, the Blue, Channel and Flathead Catfishes, which are generally plentiful, with large spreads of waterways to live in, and the assistance of formalized fish breeding and restocking programs in some areas. Further, these three species have had some chance to maintain decent size and their widespread distribution in today’s technology-rich and highly-competitive fishing environment, due in large part to a mostly agreed-upon code among catfishermen, that the largest fish caught are weighed, photographed and then released back to their environment, perhaps to be hooked again another day, and thus allowing them to breed and propagate their strong genetics for the future. Unfortunately, the Mekong Catfish doesn’t fit this picture at all. The Mekong Cat is considered the largest true freshwater fish by many, with reports of fish up to 10 feet (3 metres) being taken throughout the Mekong Basin in southeast Asia, the home and sole global territory of this giant species. In recent years, though, damming of the Mekong River and serious overfishing of the Mekong Cats has reduced its world population to some 20% of former levels, and the average size of the fish that are caught has fallen considerably, a strong indicator that the largest fish are disappearing, and that young ones are often being caught before they can breed. Accordingly, the Mekong Catfish species is listed by the IUCN on its Red List as Critically Endangered. So, while fishing for catfish can be a truly enjoyable and rewarding pastime for individuals, families and groups to pursue, respect for the continued future survival and welfare of the noble, giant and little-understood Mekong Catfish makes them a species to observe, rather than catch. All wildlife deserves, and needs, this same human respect and consideration, since all these sporting pastimes we pursue would simply not be possible, without the wildlife to begin with. By maintaining balance in our fishing and hunting activities, we can help to keep balance on the planet as a whole, our home, which means balance for us, and survival of the world as we have come to appreciate it, for everyone’s future.

Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

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