Prime Minister Hun Sen urged Cambodians to fully develop inland fish production so they would not have to depend solely on fish caught in the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers for their main diet.
Addressing the 14th National Fish Day celebrations in Anglong Chrey commune in Kampong Speu’s Thpong district on Friday, Mr. Hun Sen said due to rising temperatures caused by El Nino, the water levels of the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers had fallen significantly.
“Before, these rivers were teeming with fish and their waters were deep. Also, there was a small population and so there was enough fish for all,” said Mr. Hun Sen.
“But now things are different. The waters are shallow and Cambodia’s population is larger. So there is not enough fish to feed all of us,” added the prime minister. “Therefore we cannot only depend on fish in rivers and have to find other alternatives.”
Mr. Hun Sen said inland fish production had to be increased to meet the nutritional demands of the Cambodian people.
The prime minister said the best way to increase the population of fish in inland lakes and ponds was to frequently release fish fry into the waters so they could breed faster.
“All concerned authorities and citizens should take part in releasing fish fry in lakes, ponds, streams and rivers so that they would be able to multiply by breeding to meet the country’s demand for fish,” added Mr. Hun Sen.
“This should happen frequently and not only on July 1st, which is National Fish Day.”
Nao Thouk, secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told Khmer Times that inland fish production was in the ministry’s 2014 – 2024 strategy for the development of fisheries. He added that the ministry had a target of harvesting 200,000 tons of fish by 2018.
“The ministry is working with farmers to provide them with fast-breeding fish fry and also technical assistance on inland fish production,” said Mr. Nao Thouk.
“Currently there are about 72,000 families that have received fish fry from the ministry in the program supported by the Japanese
Sin Kang of the export diversification and expansion program of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said Mr. Hun Sen’s call to develop inland fish production was made at the right time as the drastic effects of climate change and the building of dams along the Mekong River seriously affects fish breeding areas.
“The management, conservation and development of sustainable fisheries is necessary to ensuring people’s food security,” said Mr. Kang.
“It is important also to get the private sector involved, especially those businesses in the fish feed and fish farming sector,” he added.
Mr. Kang pointed out that the government’s extension services for inland fish farmers also needed to be improved.
“It’s equally important to upgrade the skills of fisheries’ officers and increase the number of fishery officers at the provincial level,” he said.
According to the Agriculture Ministry’s report, 487,905 tons of fish were harvested in 2015. About 80 percent of total inland catch are small-sized fish.
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