Rare Mekong Fish Species Facing Extinction

April 18, 2016 – The 4,880km Mekong, South-East Asia’s 10th longest river running through seven countries including Thailand, provides a rich and diverse ecosystem with more than 1,200 species of fish.

With changes in the past two decades its ecosystem inevitably has been hit and some species of fish have become scarce and are even nearing extinction.

Academics from Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand have collaborated in conducting research to compile a list of Mekong River fish species and establish Mekong River Basin Fish museums in each country.

More than 800 fish species have been identified by the collaboration, which has been advised by Japanese academics to ensure effective data management and appropriate conservation efforts consistent with joint efforts to care for the artery.

For almost two decades, ichthyologist Chaiwut Grudpan, a lecturer at the Faculty of Agriculture’s Department of Fishery at Ubon Ratchathani University, has studied Mekong fish species..

Based on Thailand’s compiled data on 259 species, Chaiwut said many fish were at risk of extinction, such as the giant barilius, which used to be spotted in the Mekong in Ubon Ratchathani and Laos’s Champasak Province but has not been seen for 20 years.

“Jullien’s golden carp, or PlaUrn in Thailand’s Northeastern dialect, is a large freshwater fish species living in Mekong, especially in Nong Khai’s Sang Khom district where the river becomes winding with islands and a rocky riverbed suitable for the fish to lay eggs.

“In the past 10 years, there have been less and less such fish in the wild and its slip towards extinction enabled it to be protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).

“Such protection of this fish species is equal to the protection of China’s panda,” he said.

Siamese tigerfish and hairy puffers, seen only in the Mekong basin, are also near extinction, he said.

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