WWF – Mekong Giant Catfish

WWF – Mekong Giant Catfish

– Transboundary conservation of the Mekong Giant Catfish (Pangasianodon gigas)

Year 2007 – 2011

  • WWF
  • Department of Livestock and Fisheries (DLF Lao)
  • Department of Fisheries (DOF Thailand)

Project Background
The Mekong giant catfish is one of the largest freshwater fish species in the world but has rarely been captured by fishermen in the entire Mekong Basin over the last 10 years. This is despite high fishing intensity in all regions where the species is known to occur.

The Mekong giant catfish is only found in the Mekong river and its tributaries in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Local fishermen have previously caught specimens weighing over 300kg and more than 3m in length. A century ago, the Mekong giant catfish was found the entire length of the river from Vietnam to southern China.

Today, knowledge of species populations and breeding areas is still very limited. Local communities report that at least 4 large catfish species conduct annual migrations over hundreds of km in the Mekong River, but spawning sites have never been found.

The Mekong Giant Catfish (Pangasionodon gigas) is listet as critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Project goal
Wild populations and breeding habitats of the Mekong Giant Catfish and other large migratory catfish species are protected in at least two provinces in the Mekong Basin; Chiang Khong (Thailand) and Bokeo (Lao PDR).

Overview of activities

  • Survey of deep pools in Mekong River
  • Socio-economic assessment
  • Assessment of fishing livelihoods Overview of Activities
  • Survey of Mekong Giant Catfish spawning and fishing locations (genetic analysis of fish larvae)
  • Transboundary dialogue – Chiang Rai and Bokeo
  • Establishing fisheries co-management plans
  • Transboundary agreement on a fishing quota for Mekong Giant Catfish in 2008 (maximum two fish caught for each province)
  • Developing transboundary agreements for fisheries co-management in the Mekong River


pdficon_large Conservation of the Mekong Giant Catfish – Final report (PDF 4.562 KB)