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Sukhothai temple warns against releasing catfish

Photo courtesy of KhaoSod

A temple in Sukhothai has gained widespread online attention for its warning sign against releasing catfish into local waters, highlighting the ecological damage caused by this practice. The sign at Wat Traphang Thong in Mueang District has sparked a viral discussion on social media.

“Warning to those making merit: Do not release catfish as it destroys the ecosystem.

“Avoid releasing fish if possible. Most catfish are hybrids that devour smaller fish. Releasing them is akin to unleashing a horde of zombies upon a village. You intend to make merit but end up sinning instead.”

The post has garnered numerous comments and praises, with many applauding the temple for raising awareness about the harmful effects of releasing catfish. Commenters have expressed hope that other temples will follow suit, as many people are still unaware that releasing catfish can damage local ecosystems.

Last year, Dr Nan Phanitwong, a freshwater ecosystem expert, posted on Facebook about the issue, noting that 1 tonne of catfish can consume approximately 1.8 million aquatic animals annually. The commonly released big-eyed catfish are hybrids of the Thai catfish and the Russian catfish, bred for their large size. However, other catfish species have since been crossbred, resulting in even larger and more voracious catfish. When released, these hybrid catfish pose significant threats to local ecosystems.

Dr Nan’s post highlighted that the original catfish were already indiscriminate eaters, but the new hybrids are even more insatiable. This increased appetite exacerbates the ecological imbalance when they are released into natural water bodies.

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This incident has led to discussions on alternative ways to make merit that do not harm the environment. Suggestions include planting trees, participating in clean-up activities, or supporting wildlife conservation efforts. These alternatives offer meaningful ways to contribute positively to the environment while still fulfilling religious and cultural traditions, reported KhaoSod.

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