The local fishing community of Phetchaburi is in for a thrilling adventure, as the inland fisheries prevention and suppression unit of the Fishery Department announces the start of the highly anticipated fishing season. With, not one, not two, but 60 giant Mekong catfish swimming around in the depths of the Kaeng Krachan Dam, perhaps, this could be the most engaging fishing expedition yet.
Marking the start of the season on the 9th of November, avid fishermen and fishing enthusiasts alike are invited to cast their nets in the hunt for these whopping underwater creatures, the search lasting till the 9th of January. This is, however, nothing short of a regulated sporting event – those seeking to partake must adhere to strict rules. A fishing net of at least 50 centimeters in mesh size is necessary, ensuring the sustainability and safety of underwater life.
Moreover, a registration fee of 1,000 Baht opens doors to this thrilling underwater hunt. But the thrill doesn’t end there, with every giant catfish caught, an additional 1,000 Baht is charged. While this may seem a hefty price to pay, the cause behind it is truly commendable. The accumulated amount is utilized to bring up 100 Mekong giant catfish hatchlings, which are then given back to the reservoir, ensuring the preservation and growth of the species.
The Giant Mekong catfish, a critically endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, has become a symbol of sustainability efforts in this region. Hence, the fishing season, a yearly event, is more than just a sport – it’s a drive towards an ecologically balanced underwater life.
If by chance, all 60 of the Mekong giant catfish are caught before the season’s due date, the event draws to a preemptive end. This regulation portrays the effort to uphold a balance between human engagement and conservation efforts.
Anticipating this much-awaited time of the year, the fishermen of Ban Phukhem village in the Kaeng Krachan district are committed to the cause and happily following the regulations. Selling each kilogram of the giant catfish for 250 Baht, the catch turns into a hefty payday. With ever-ready buyers flocking to the site, the sale is as quick as the catch.
Since the beginning of the season, a total of 20 giant catfish have already been caught. The largest of the giants, a jaw-dropping 202kg, and the smallest, a still impressive 98kg. It’s a testament to the rewarding thrill that awaits every fisherman and follower of the season. As the town livens and buzzes with an air of excitement and anticipation, the fishing season indeed brings a wave of adventure for everyone around.