Lao fish farming

The Parliament Blog
17 December 2013

Imagine a country rich in biodiversity, bathed in sunshine, welcoming to inward investors and with a population of kind and thoughtful people who must be among the friendliest on the planet and you will begin to get an understanding of Laos.

Tucked away in South East Asia, landlocked between Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and China, Laos has a population of only 6.5 million, but it is growing rapidly and is expected to reach eight million by 2020.

Unusually, for a landlocked country, the people of Laos consume a great deal of fish. Every Laotian eats around 30 kg of fish and aquatic products like frogs, snails and crabs, per year, compared to an average of 20 kg per person in Europe.

The fish come from the mighty Mekong River and its tributaries which dissect the country. Unbelievably, there are more fish in the Mekong than in the whole of the North Sea, but with a growing population and greater demand for fish, even the vast Mekong will not be able to meet the needs of the Lao people.

The government of Laos needs to double aquaculture production from 100,000 tonnes to 200,000 tonnes per year. They look with envy at the success of their neighbours in Vietnam who export over 150,000 tonnes of Pangasius (catfish) fillets to the EU every year and they are determined to emulate that success. But first they have to produce enough fish to feed their own people.

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