Vientiane Times, 24 June 2014
The Department of Livestock and Fisheries plans to urge the government and private sectors to release around 30 million fingerlings into reservoirs, rivers and marshes.
In 2012 the department on behalf of the government encouraged different sectors to release 18 million fingerlings, which was increased to 24 million last year, the department’s Director General Dr Bounkhouang Khambounheuang told local media last week.
The National Aquatic and Wildlife Day, also known as Fish Releasing Day, is celebrated on July 13.
Dr Bounkhouang asked various organisations, as well as the government and private sectors in Vientiane and other provinces, to hold a fish releasing ceremony to mark the day.
The aim of National Aquatic and Wildlife Day is to raise awareness and understanding on the value of conserving marine life and wildlife for sustainability.
The event also marks the history of Laos’ fisheries development and the contribution it has made to the people’s living conditions and socio-economic development.
The fingerlings that have been most often released have come from the catfish family but new thinking suggests that some of these may actually have a harmful affect on the aquatic environment so the department is asking people not to release catfish this time.
The livestock and fisheries sector should take responsibility for raising awareness and encouraging people in the community to participate in this activity, Dr Bounkhouang said.
He said this should also give the sector the chance to extend their knowledge of the Fisheries Law and the importance of Fish Releasing Day.
In 1960 the fisheries sector and fish breeding development had not yet been developed with around 90 percent of the population fishing only for their personal consumption.
Fish breeding was not necessary at the time as most people only fished along the streams, marshes and rivers, Dr Bounkhouang said, adding that generally the fish caught were not for sale and but for the family dinner table.
The Lao population was also less than it is today, with fishing equipment being limited.
In the period 1965-75, fish development gradually changed along with other agricultural practices. The government, with assistance from international organisations such as the United States Agency for International Development, established fish breeding stations in the northern, southern and central parts of Laos intending to supply fingerlings to support the expanding demand.
In 1987-95, international organisations such as the Mekong River Commission (MRC), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and CARE gave financial support to encourage farmers and teach them the techniques needed for breeding fish.
From 1996, with the development of science and technology as well as the expansion of markets and population, the government, with the cooperation and assistance from international organisations such as Japan International Cooperation Agency, FAO, MRC and the World Wildlife Fund, began supporting human resource development.
Currently, the country comprises more than 80 fingerling stations, with more than 300 million fingerlings each year but this is still not sufficient to meet the demand.