Critically Endangered Giant Fish on Menu at Luxury Restaurants

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Critically Endangered Giant Fish on Menu at Luxury Restaurants

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:27 am

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Extensive Article

By Rachel Nuwer
Photographs by Linh Pham
July 2, 2018

Vietnamese restaurateurs are illegally sourcing rare Mekong River megafish from Cambodian fishermen.

Lang Nghe is part of a growing trend of restaurants across Vietnam that are aggressively cultivating a new, dangerous market for megafish. The species they offer are so rare that the removal of even a few individuals—up to six a month in the case of Lang Nghe—may tip the animals toward extinction. But because wild freshwater fish don’t attract the same attention as tigers, elephants, rhinos, or pangolins, very few people know they’re being targeted—and even fewer are doing anything to stop it.

He quickly uncovered dozens of similar ads and related Vietnamese media stories. “Seeing pictures of the fish, I didn’t think the largest and most endangered ones could be coming from the aquaculture industry,” he said. “They were much too big. It looked like they must be coming from the wild.

Trading Mekong giant catfish and giant barbs violates both international and domestic law in Cambodia. That’s also the case in Vietnam, where several species of megafish, including giant catfish and giant barbs, have been protected since 2008. While Cambodia’s current penal code doesn’t specify a punishment for poaching protected fish, in Vietnam maximum penalties for exploiting those species can result in fines of $88,000 for individuals or $658,000 for businesses, and 15 years in jail. Yet enforcement is weak:

Prices vary by species and size, Nghia said, with giant barbs weighing more than 220 pounds fetching the most—about $80 a pound. “Giant barb is the most expensive because it’s so rare and the quality is so great. Sometimes we even have to bid with other restaurants for it.” The largest fish he ever received, however, was a Mekong giant catfish, caught in Cambodia in December 2016 and weighing 617 pounds. “It looked like a buffalo,” Nghia said.

While some Cambodians who ensnare giant fish may be scrupulous and superstitious, others are more interested in profit—or are motivated by desperation—and with millions of nets cast in the Mekong each day, the fish run a constant risk of being caught and sold off illegally.

Anh may be able to bypass the permit formalities. “I have a good relationship with people in Cambodia’s government,” he told me. “I was introduced to these giant fish by them.” When asked to elaborate, he declined to comment further. “Selling these giant fish is sensitive.

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Re: Critically Endangered Giant Fish on Menu at Luxury Restaurants

Post by violet » Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:06 am

Thanks. I didn't know about this before.
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Re: Critically Endangered Giant Fish on Menu at Luxury Restaurants

Post by that genius » Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:14 am

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Re: Critically Endangered Giant Fish on Menu at Luxury Restaurants

Post by willyhilly » Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:42 am

When I visited the rhino sanctuary in Uganda they had information of rhino horn smuggling. Apparently Vietnam is the biggest market but the goods may be sold on to China.
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Re: Critically Endangered Giant Fish on Menu at Luxury Restaurants

Post by Artful Dodger » Sun Jul 08, 2018 1:40 pm

A couple years ago, I found a shop in Hanoi's Old Quarter near the Markets that had on display for sale rhino horns, elephant tusks, narwhal 'noses", walrus tusks, and an array of dried heads of different types of antelopes and deer as well as dried/mummified birds, lizards and monkeys.
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Re: Critically Endangered Giant Fish on Menu at Luxury Restaurants

Post by hanno » Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:46 pm

willyhilly wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:42 am
When I visited the rhino sanctuary in Uganda they had information of rhino horn smuggling. Apparently Vietnam is the biggest market but the goods may be sold on to China.
Mostly for Vietnam these days. One Rhine is killed every 8 hours on average in South Africa; mostly destined for Vietnam.
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