The giant catfish has been listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species since 1975 when it first became apparent that it had seriously declined. It occurs in a Biosphere Reserve and a RAMSAR site (for wetlands of international significance), but both fail to provide active protection. In Cambodia and Thailand it is illegal to catch the giant catfish but this legislation is not enforced. In Laos it is protected, but again, this has no practical effect (1).
Artificially spawned individuals have been released into the River Mekong since 1985, and captive breeding has been taking place since 2001 (1). The Mekong Fish Conservation Project works in cooperation with the Cambodian Department of Fisheries to conduct research and educate the public. This project has released 20 catfish into the river system since 2000 (5). Studies have provided evidence that it spawns in areas that will be impacted by the Mekong Navigation Improvement Project which plans to dredge long stretches of river and blast away areas with rapids that obstruct the passage of large ships. The project was partially underway before the reliability of the Environmental Impact Report was questioned, and the project was put on hold (6).