Arapaima and chips?

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A Peruvian company is promoting Arapaima as a sustainable replacement for popular marine species such as sea bass, the stocks of which are under pressure from overfishing.

Aquaculture company Amazone is farming the South American giant, also known as Pirarucu or Paiche, in ever increasing numbers, and last year exported $500,000 worth of the organically raised fish.

In 2012 it expects to export over $3m worth of the fish, aiming largely at the gourmet market, with customers in the US, France, Spain and Italy.

The fish is popular with chefs and diners as it is low in fat and free of the potential heavy metal contamination which blights some marine species, while its huge size means it can be cut into chunky, bone free fillets.

The company is also releasing some of its farm raised fish back into the wild to supplement dwindling natural stocks of the endangered species.

Worryingly, until recently it was believed that the massive fish was only a single species, Arapaima gigas, which is often considered to be the world's largest freshwater fish. However in 2009 it was discovered that there were in fact five different species: A. gigas, A. mapae, A. agassizii and A.arapaima as well as an as yet undescribed fish. This has led to concern for the welfare of the already endangered fish, as currently only A. gigas is covered under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) appendix II listing which offers the species some protection.

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