Exports of fish fell in the first four months of 2017, but income from the fisheries sector increased by nearly half compared with the same period last year.
According to an Agriculture Ministry report, income from the fisheries sector between January and April was $230,653, up $95,501 on 2016.
Exports of fresh fish products stood at 3,380 tonnes and exports of processed fish products were 1,870 tonnes, down 30 and 180 tonnes respectively, the report said.
Fish yields increased compared with the same period last year. Freshwater fish yields reached 130,395 tonnes, up 8,300 tonnes from the year before, while marine fish yields stood at 34,425 tonnes, up 1,575 tonnes.
Hong Hy, director of administration and legislation at the Fishery Administration, said earlier that high local demand for fresh fish had reduced exports, while strong fish yields would help cut imports from abroad.
“Local demand is high,” he said. “We still import farmed fish from neighbouring countries to meet local demand, but locals mostly prefer ‘wild’ fish.”
Mr Hy added the government is encouraging Cambodian fish farmers to supply the local market, saying yields would rise further once illegal fishing was curbed.
However, he warned natural disasters caused by climate change pose the biggest threat to the country’s fisheries sector.
“The human factor can be tackled, but natural factors are another issue. When lakes and rivers are dry, fish cannot reach the flooded mangrove areas for food. And if the fish cannot grow well, then obviously there will be a decreased yield,” Mr Hy said.
Mr Shetty Seetharama Thombathu, chief Technical advisor for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, said Cambodia’s fishery sector is currently not harmonised with the requirements of export markets, in terms of policies, legal framework, guidelines, enforcement, inspections and reporting.
“Due to this non-compliance, Cambodian fishery products do not become competitive in the export markets,” he said.
In order to improve fish exports, Mr Thombathu said, “Cambodia needs to develop a comprehensive food safety law which gives complete authority of enforcement to a single ministry.”
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