|Basa fish, Pangasius bocourti|
|Basa fish Vinh Long market, Việt Nam|
The basa fish, Pangasius bocourti, is a type of catfish in the family Pangasiidae. Basa are native to the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam and Chao Phraya basin in Thailand. These fish are important food fish with an international market. They are often labeled in North America and Australia as "basa fish" or "bocourti". In the UK, the species is known mainly as "river cobbler", with "basa" also being used on occasion. In Europe, these fish are commonly marketed as "pangasius" or "panga". Other related shark catfish may occasionally be falsely labeled as basa fish, including Pangasianodon hypophthalmus (iridescent shark) and Pangasius pangasius (yellowtail catfish).
The body of a basa fish is stout and heavy. The rounded head is broader than it is long, with the blunt snout having a white band on its muzzle. This species grows to a length of 120 centimetres (47 in) SL.
Food and spawning 
Basa fish feed on plants. They spawn at the onset of flood season and the young are first seen in June, averaging about 5 cm by mid-June.
"Catfish war" in the U.S. 
In 2002, the United States accused Vietnam of dumping catfish, namely Pangasius bocourti and Pangasius hypophthalmus, on the American market, charging the Vietnamese importers, who are subsidized by Vietnam's government, of unfair competition. With pressures from the U.S. catfish industry, the United States Congress passed a law in 2003 preventing the imported fish from being labelled as catfish, as well as imposing additional tariffs on the imported fish. Under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruling, only species from the family Ictaluridae can be sold as true catfish. As a result, the Vietnamese exporters of this fish now label their products sold in the U.S. as basa fish or bocourti.
At the height of the "catfish war", U.S. catfish farmers and others were describing the imported catfish as an inferior product. However, Mississippi State University researchers found imported basa were preferred in a taste test 3-to-1.
Environmental and health concerns 
Several environmental organizations concerned with marine ecosystems have raised concerns about basa. OceanWise, an environmental organization associated with the Vancouver Aquarium has flagged farmed basa for its potential pollution of ecosystems and interference with wild species. They write, "Open cage farming in Southeast Asia is associated with disease transfer to wild basa. There are also concerns about feed quality, farm operating standards and the biological impact of using wild stock for culturing." The Monterey Bay Aquarium, while having concerns, does not red-flag basa. Both groups cite USA farmed catfish as a more sustainable alternative.
Basa in the UK 
Basa has become fairly common in the UK under the name "Vietnamese river cobbler" or just "river cobbler". It is mainly being sold through the large supermarkets in both fresh and frozen forms. It is marketed as a cheaper alternative to traditionally popular white fish, such as cod or haddock. Young's Bluecrest use it in some of their frozen fish products, choosing to use the name basa instead of cobbler.
UK Trading Standards officers have stated cobbler is being fraudulently sold as cod by some fish and chip retailers to capitalise on the large difference in the wholesale price between the two, i.e., cobbler costs less than half the price of cod. This practice was highlighted by the successful prosecution of two retailers (using DNA evidence) one in July 2009, and another in April 2010.
Popular culture 
- Vidthayanon, C. (2012). "Pangasius bocourti". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Pangasius bocourti" in FishBase. February 2012 version.
- "CFIA Fish List". Canadian Food Inspection Agency. 7 July 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
- Labelling (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2006 "Fish Labelling (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2006". COT. 26 May 2007. Retrieved 22 July 2009.[dead link]
- "Vietnam catfish farmers angered by French reports". Monsters and Critics. 19 May 2008. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
- Becker, Elizabeth (16 January 2002). "Delta Farmers Want Copyright on Catfish". New York Times. Archived from the original on 30 January 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
- Armstrong, David (8 February 2003). "Food Fight: U.S. accuses Vietnam of dumping catfish on the American market". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
- "Catfish by Any Other Name". Time. 25 February 2002. Archived from the original on 26 January 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
- "Basa/Swai". SeaFood Business magazine. Archived from the original on 6 January 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
- "Buyer's Guide: Basa Catfish". SeaFood Business magazine. November 2001. Archived from the original on 22 March 2007. Retrieved 31 March 2007.
- Greenberg, Paul (9 October 2008). "A Catfish by Any Other Name". New York Times. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
- "Vietnam has tastier fish than US: studies". Independent Online. 19 July 2005. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
- BBC Watchdog report
- Food Standards Australia Report 2005
- Review of Provisions in the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code as they relate to Imported Seafood, March 2009, from the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
- 'Correct Information About Basa from Seafood Importers Association
- Elliott, Valerie (13 July 2009). "Fish and chip shops accused of selling Vietnamese cobbler as cod". London: Times Online. Retrieved 22 July 2009. [Subscription required]
- "Chip shop owner admits fish fraud". BBC News. 15 April 2010. Archived from the original on 18 April 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
- Mascot page (in Thai), Nakhon Phanom Games official website, 6 December 2006
Further reading 
- Kulabtong, Sitthi. "Biology and Culture Techniques of Bocourti Catfish, Pangasius bocourti Sauvage, 1880 in Thailand". Veridian E-Journal, Silpakorn University, 5(3): 411–419, 2012.
Heavy metal residues in imported frozen fish and Pangasius hypophthalmus (Basa) fish fillets Heavy Reham, A. Amin. Heavy metal residues in imported frozen fish and Pangasius hypophthalmus (Basa) fish fillets
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