ASUNCION – The governments of Paraguay and Taiwan signed a letter of intent Tuesday with the purpose of raising 200,000 surubi catfish, a species that is in high demand but declining in numbers, in captivity.
Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez attended the signing ceremony at the Agriculture Ministry’s fisheries center in the city of Eusebio Ayala, officials said.
Taiwan’s government is investing $1.54 million in the project, while Paraguay is contributing $500,000.
During the ceremony, Taiwanese Ambassador Diego Chou noted the importance of the project in light of increasing scarcity of the surubi catfish in Paraguay’s rivers due to overfishing amid high demand.
“Since the year 2000, the surubi catch figure has gradually been reduced from 30,000 tons to only 15,000 tons per year,” Chou said in a statement released by the president’s office.
Agriculture Minister Denis Lichi said per-capita consumption of fish in Paraguay is 6.5 kg (14.3 lbs) per year and growing.
The project will make it possible to add surubi catfish to school meals, with the goal of developing the aquaculture industry and contributing to the nutrition of children, Lichi said.
The surubi is a native species traditionally eaten by Paraguayans.
Taiwan and Paraguay have worked on a pacu project for four years, raising a fish species related to the piranha that is also found in the Paraguay and Parana rivers.