Most fish farmers in Vientiane and the province of Champassak have stopped raising tilapia (panin) after being unable to compete with the low market price offered by Chinese fish farmers.
Last week the few remaining tilapia farmers in Vientiane said they would discontinue the business after selling their existing stock.
One man who used to raise tilapia told Vientiane Times that most of the fish cages were on the Nam Ngum river in Xaythany district.
“Most of the cages owned by local people are now empty and abandoned,” he said.
He explained that it cost about 15,800 kip to produce one kilogramme of fish, but Chinese breeders in Vientiane were selling the fish for 10,000-14,000 kip per kg, and sometimes 9,500 kip.
There used to be about 80 families raising tilapia in Vientiane, and about 18 or 20 tonnes of fish were sold daily in markets in Vientiane and the provinces, but now most of these fish farmers have given up.
The Chinese raising fish on the Nam Ngum river are operating illegally because they haven’t registered their fish farms according to Lao regulations.
The former fish farmer said the Chinese rented out land along the river and then built fish cages alongside.
The National Assembly’s Committee on Economic Technology and the Environment has reported to the Assembly’s ongoing debate session that complaints are being made about too many fish cages being kept by foreigners in Vientiane and Champassak province.
The committee also said these cages were scattered around Vientiane and Champassak province, which was a violation of the rules.
Scores of Chinese reportedly farm tilapia on the Nam Ngum river, but one local breeder known as Mr Alo owns 1,000 cages and this massive supply of fish is causing a glut on the market.
The Chinese began raising tilapia in Vientiane in 2007 and the number of fish farms is growing each year.
The anonymous fish farmer said the Vientiane authorities told local breeders they would try to resolve the problem, but they did not.
Popular opinion has it that if local people stop farming tilapia, this will mean the Chinese will have no competitors and will then sell their fish for a high price.
Source: Vientiane Times