Photo credit: Ahmed Hegazy (Egypt)
Review: Abdel Rahman El Gamal (Founder of the website)
River catfish (Pangasius spp.) is a large riverine catfish that is indigenous to the countries within the Mekong River Basin and hence the species is not native to the Philippines. Pangasius is considered an economically important food fish because of its fast growth, versatile feeding habit and hardiness.
The species was introduced as food fish in the Philippines by pet shop owners in 1978 and subsequently in 1981 by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for experimentation whereas studies on Breeding, risk assessment and culture were conducted in 1985. However, due to the lack of market as food fish, Pangasius fingerlings that resulted from breeding trials by BFAR were sold as “freshwater hammerhead shark” in the ornamental fish trade.
As the Philippine imports of Pangasius fillets from Vietnam continue to increase, there has been a growing interest to invest in the culture the species for food in the Philippines. Accordingly, BFAR has launched scientific studies on the growth and breeding, risk assessment of this “exotic” species (Pangasius hypothalamus) to determine any possible risk -if any- that could accompany the introduction of the species. In general, it is believed that the species is considered as low risk aquaculture species since it cannot reproduce naturally, and hence fingerlings are produced only in local hatcheries through induced spawning.
These studies conducted by BFAR led to developing technical packages for the culture of Pangasius which could be applied in various farming environments and systems such as ponds, cages, polyculture, integration, ..etc. The inserted photo shows a part of the BFAR facility in which studies on the intensive culture of Pangasius were conducted.
In addition to BFAR, there are other Philippine organisms that are contributing to the promotion of Pangasius culture. These include primarily the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).