BANGKOK – The Siamese fighting fish, or Betta Splendens, has been formally recognized as the national aquatic animal by the National Identity Committee (NIC), according to the Prime Minister’s Office Minister, Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana.
The Betta was given the formal recognition at the NIC meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam Thursday.
The listing of the Betta was recommended by the Fisheries Department and the Agriculture Ministry.
It was the second time the issue was brought before the NIC. This time, the Betta won the recognition after the Fisheries Department chief and a team of academics explained the significance of the fish in the country’s history and the merits of declaring them as part of the national identity, according to Mr Suwaphan.
The minister said the Fisheries Department has presented comprehensive information about the fish, which adequately supports the NIC’s decision to put them on the list of national aquatic animals.
He said the department has explained that Betta have many cultural and historical associations, and have been mentioned extensively in Thai novels and literature.
The fish also holds scientific value as it has been the subject of academic studies on aquatic animals. Mr Suwaphan said the colorful, ornamental fish were discovered in Thailand and are most often found in the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.
Mr Suwaphan added that now that the fish is recognized as a national aquatic animal, more people will find an incentive to commercially breed them, which will help with their conservation.