Spotlight Series: Critically Endangered Fish On The Menu

Original, engaging and creative investigative reporting is an invaluable tool for highlighting underreported environmental stories. Rachel Nuwer’s in depth investigation into the illegal fishing of megafish demonstrates this brilliantly.

Fishermen load up fish to a dealer’s boat house in Kompong Luong, a large floating village north of Krakor on Tonlé Sap Lake where many fishermen have encountered with or caught the giant Mekong fish.


In a world of seemingly never-ending hostility and division, journalists and filmmakers who dedicate their careers to telling stories that highlight our common humanity and break down prejudices have never been more important. Our spotlight series highlights some of the industry’s best examples of media that bridges the divide between cultures worldwide and raises awareness of underreported stories.


In Critically Endangered Giant Fish On Menu at Luxury Restaurants, Rachel Nuwer travels along the Mekong river to report on the story of the river’s giant catfish which have become a prized item of luxury and status in the region’s restaurants.

Nuwer sheds light on the lives of the fishermen on the Mekong who catch these magnificent “monster” fish and uncovers the motivations of those who desire to both serve and eat them. Nuwer’s meticulously researched words are a rich, emotive blend of colour and context, and Pham’s photographs and video only add to the sense of atmosphere.

In recognition of the fantastic reporting of Rachel Nuwer, and the photographic talents of Linh Pham, the duo were awarded the One World Media Environmental Reporting Award 2019.

The Head of Jury for Environmental Reporting Award, Leo Hickman, Editor at Carbon Brief noted the creativity and profound story telling of the piece: “This investigative feature has everything you want as a reader – drama, pace, villains, good guys, twists and, finally, a story arc that resolves, if not positively per se, with at least some sense of hope.”


Phoen Sok Phoen, a fisherman who caught 250-plus-pound giant barb in his net on two separate occasions last year but called the fisheries officials to released the fish, drives his boat back home through Kompong Loung floating viallage on Tonlé Sap Lake, Cambodia. It was the first time in 10 years of fishing the Tonle Sap Lake that he’d caught one giant barb, let alone two. “I was very surprised and very afraid, because giant barb is like a god or spirit,” he says. “I prayed to it, ‘Please don’t harm me!’”


Rachel Nuwer notes that providing a platform for international reporting is incredibly important:

“Following publication, Vietnamese authorities introduced giant fish into environmental training for law enforcement officers and began planning a raid of restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City, demonstrating the vital role that journalism plays in sparking policy change.”

The One World Media Awards look to champion original and compassionate journalism like Critically Endangered Fish; to celebrate stories that demonstrate originality, creativity, and the potential to catalyse change.


Across 15 categories including print, film, television, radio, audio and digital, the One World Media Awards celebrate underreported stories that break down stereotypes, change the narrative and connect people from different cultures.

The One World Media Awards 2020 are now open for entries! Find out more about the Awards, including eligibility and criteria.

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