BUSAN, Oct. 20 (Korea Bizwire) – Catfish, which were influential in determining the promotion of bureaucrats in the Joseon Dynasty, will soon be returning to the Geum River, their original habitat.
The National Marine Science Research Center this year is pushing ahead with a plan to breed catfish in a natural setting.
Catfish means “The King of the Fish”, if written in Chinese characters.
Koreans of yesteryear thought highly of the fish in terms of its flavor and appearance, giving it the grand name. Catfish used to live in the downstream of larger rivers like Han and Geum Rivers that flow into the West Sea.
Among other places, Buyeo, the Geum River estuary and Nonsan produced catfish with a uniquely fine flavor, which means even the king wanted to taste it.
The then high-ranking officials enjoyed eating catfish, which suggested that a bureaucrat in favor with the king would be rewarded with the valuable fish, which held sway over the promotion of an official. People called the fish “master of the bureaucrats”.
Catfish used to thrive in China and Korea. But after the early 1970s, successive governments rushed to build dams and the environmental pollution affected their habitats, and catfish started to disappear.
With the National Marine Research Center securing adult fish from China in 2000, the project of breeding catfish in a natural habitat was launched in earnest.
The National Marine Research Center plans to release the juvenile fish derived from different adult fish in an attempt to guarantee genetic diversity, track the way they adapt themselves to the surrounding environment, and investigate the impact of their existence on the ecosystem.
By the end of next year, the results of the study will be completed and publicly released, after which comprehensive breeding will start.
About a couple of years later, the fish will grow to adult size at 30 to 40 centimeters in length. At that point, the National Marine Research Center estimates, the catfish will be well suited for a prime spot on a Korean dinner table.
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)