As the country enters its second fishing season, fish catches are widely expected to decline due to adverse weather conditions.
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The second phase of the fishing season started on January 21 and will end on the 26, according to the Fisheries Administration, who issued a public statement last month urging producers of Prahok to buy their fish at the end of this month in fishing areas around the Tonle Sap.
The fishing season is already upon us, but fish yields are low, said Nao Thuk, secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, who added that the small catches were the direct result of heavy rainfall in areas around the Tonle Sap.
“There have been heavy showers these past few days, which makes it harder for fishermen to catch the fish used for making prahok,” Mr Thuk said.
“In sunny days, up to 150 kilograms of fish are caught, but on rainy days, only 10 to 15 kilograms are brought to shore.
“With lower yields, fewer prahok lovers area visiting the fishing areas around the Tonle Sap,” he said, adding that prahok fish now sells for $0.3 or $0.4 per kilogram, which he says is a similar price to that of the previous fishing season.
However, the overall outlook for the sector is still positive, Mr Thuk said, with fish yields in 2018 expected to be higher than the year before, and with fish fetching a higher price in the local market. According to Mr Thuk, this is mainly due to a governmental crackdown that has dismantled multiple illegal fishing operations in the area.
Ngin Dy, an official of the Fisheries Administration in Phnom Penh, echoed the same sentiment.
“Compared to the previous season in late December, this season catches are going to be smaller,” Mr Dy said.
According to the Fisheries Administration, 856,000 tonnes of freshwater fish were caught last year, which amounts to an increase of seven percent compared to 2016, when only 802,500 tonnes were fished.