Mass fish deaths leave farmers in deep trouble

Mass fish deaths leave farmers in deep trouble

Farmers show masses of dead fish raised in baskets in the reservoir of Vachiralongkorn Dam in Thong Pha Phum district of Kanchanaburi on Saturday. (Photo by Piyarat Chongcharoen)
Farmers show masses of dead fish raised in baskets in the reservoir of Vachiralongkorn Dam in Thong Pha Phum district of Kanchanaburi on Saturday. (Photo by Piyarat Chongcharoen)

KANCHANABURI: More than 100 tonnes of fish raised in baskets in the reservoir of Vachiralongkorn Dam in Thong Pha Phum district have died from an unknown cause, leaving fish farmers with losses of about 15 million baht.

About 30 farmers who raise the fish -- pla kod khang (Hemibagrus wyckioides) -- in about 100 baskets in the dam reservoir at Pilokki village said they began to die about four days ago. They did not know the reasons for the mass deaths. 

When the fish began to sicken, they tried to save them by pumping oxygen into the water and moving the baskets further into the middle of the reservoir, but to no avail -- the fish, each weighing 3-8 kilogrammes, in every basket died. The farmers had to pull the dead fish out of the water and pile them along the bank for a distance of about one kilometre.

The stench from the dead fish spread throughout the area. Some were still in the water and it would take several more weeks to scoop them all out, stoking fears of pollution.  

Fish farmers said they have raised fish in baskets in the dam's reservoir for more than 10 years. In the past, when they had control outbreaks of fish diseases with medicines. But there was nothing they could do to minimise the damage from fish dying en masse for unknown reasons. .

They estimated their losses at around 15 million baht.

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