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Make way for money-making catfish

PHILIPPINES - The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will start to vigorously promote the Pangasius, a freshwater species of catfish, dubbed as the "next big thing" in the local aquaculture industry.

According to Dr. Remedios Ongtangco, Central Luzon director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, this high-value fish commodity is seen as "the emerging darling of freshwater aquaculture."

Vitarich Corp. chair and president Rogelio Sarmiento said in a statement that the "entry of the Pangasius to our line of aqua products for export will strengthen our foothold in the global aquaculture market."

"Pangasius is expected to open new business opportunities in both local and export markets, similar to that of the bangus and tilapia," Sarmiento added.

BFAR said the Pangasius belongs to the family Pangasiidae with more than 20 different species. It is also called the shark catfish, because of its sharp dorsal fins, silver striped catfish, Siamese shark, sutchi catfish or swai catfish, is endemic on the Vietnam side of the Mekong River.

Known for its enormous size, the adult Pangasius can reach 130 cm or 4 feet in length and can weigh up to 44 kilos or 97 lbs.