The information that a striped snapper is priced at several thousands of dollars has stirred up the public. Ornamental fish players and fishermen could not imagine before that the fish would become so expensive, though they know that this is a precious species of fish and favorite by ornamental fish players.
Breeding fish in the … pollution era
Experts say striped snappers can be found only in the Vam Co Dong River. Therefore, the fish once helped local fishermen and fish breeders get rich.
Le Van Thuan, a farmer of Chau Thanh district in Tay Ninh province, related that 5-6 years ago, the areas along the Vam Co Dong River, from the Phuoc Vinh commune to Hoa Thanh, Hau Duoc, Hoa Hoi and Thanh Long communes, were always full of fish cages. Farmers bred fish to sell for profit and they could live well on the job. Especially, they focused on breeding striped snappers, which were favored by both domestic and foreign ornamental fish players.
According to Thuan, in the past, small young fish could be found easily at the riverhead of Vam Co Dong. Farmers just needed to go to the river to collect tiny young fish to sell to fish breeders at 8000-10,000 dong per fish. When fish grow up and have the size of 5 cm at least, breeders can sell fish to the merchants from HCM City and other provinces, at 70,000 dong.
In general, farmers could have 1000 fish individuals per every cage and earn 70 million dong from every cage. Nguyen Van Lenh, a farmer in Chau Thanh district, reportedly made the profit of several billions of dong from every crop.
The fish breeding was thriving, when disaster rushed down. In 2005, the water of the Vam Co Dong River began getting polluted, which then killed a lot of fish. “At that time, I had several thousands of fish individuals and I expected to sell the fish in some more days. However, fish died in masses, and I lost tens of millions of dong just overnight,” he said.
The polluted Vam Co Dong River not only kills the fish bred in cages by farmers, but also the striped snappers living in the wild. Local residents say they cannot find any striped snappers at the riverhead of Vam Co Dong any more. Tu Danh guesses that the fish has “evacuated” to the upstream of the river, on the other side of the Da Han dam, in Cambodian territory. There are no young fish for breeding anymore on Vam Co Dong, while fishes are being threatened by the polluted river, farmers have to stop breeding fish.
As a result, snappers are getting more and more expensive. Do Thi Ly, a farmer in Phuoc Vinh commune of Chau Thanh district, related that her brother luckily caught a fish last year and he sold the fish to a merchant from Tay Ninh town at five million dong. The skyrocketing fish price has prompted farmers to resume fish breeding, though they know that it is risky.
Tu Manh, a farmer in Phuoc Trach commune in Go Dau district, reportedly crossed the border to Cambodia and purchased 700 young fish individuals. After a period of breeding, he now can sell the fish at 10 million dong per individual. Especially, he once sold a fish at 1000 dollars to a company specializing in exporting ornamental fish.
However, other farmers are not as lucky as Manh. Nguyen Van Lenh, a farmer, has also been trying to resume fish breeding for the last few months. However, an unfamiliar disease has occurred with the fish’s skin, which makes the fish unsalable. And once again, this has been blamed on the Vam Co Dong’s polluted water.