June 29, 2005

Thai fishermen catch, eat record-sized catfish

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fishermen in northern Thailand havecaught the biggest catfish on record -- a 646-pound (293-kg)giant the size of a grizzly bear -- and eaten it, the WWF andthe National Geographic Society said on Wednesday.

The giant catfish, believed to be the largest freshwaterfish ever found, was caught along the Mekong River, home tomore species of massive fish than any river on Earth.

"We've now confirmed that this catfish is the currentrecord holder, an astonishing find," Dr Zeb Hogan, a WWFConservation Science Fellow, said in the joint statement.

Local environmentalists and government officials tried tonegotiate the release of the fish so it could continue itsspawning migration in the far north of Thailand but the adultmale died and was eaten in a remote village, it said.

The Mekong giant catfish is southeast Asia's largest andrarest fish and the focus of a National Geographic Societyproject headed by Hogan to study freshwater fish greater than6.5 feet or 220 pounds (100 kg).