The first season for catching the fish used in prahok came to an end last week, with yields being higher than last year but prices staying at a similar level.
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Due to favourable weather conditions, fish catches during this season were higher than in the previous, said Ngin Dy, chief of the fisheries department.
“More river fish was caught this year. Due to heavy downpours this year, the water levels are higher, so there is more fish in the Tonle Sap lake and Mekong river,” Mr Dy said.
Generally speaking, there are two high seasons for catching the fish used in prahok – one falls in December, while the other falls in late January.
Fisherman caught up to 500 kilograms of fish at a time through the use of cast nets, Mr Dy said, a figure that surpassed last year’s. Mr Dy, however, could not provide specific figures on the total amount of fish caught.
He added that the water level in the Mekong was “optimal” for catching the fish used in prahok, Cambodia’s famous savoury fish paste.
Eng Chea San, director-general of the fisheries administration, could not be reached for comment, but recently told Khmer Times that yields will continue to increase owing to the government’s crackdown on illegal fishing activities.
“We expect to have at least as big a catch as last year’s,” Mr Chea San said. “We have been working to crackdown on illegal fishing and protect spawning areas, so we hope the amount of fish in the river has increased considerably.”
There are about 10 fishing areas in Phnom Penh and dozens in Kandal province.
Chhorn Sreypich, a prahok producer from Kandal province, said the price of fish is fluctuating.
“The price has changed. It was cheap at the beginning of the season and started increasing towards the end,” Ms Sreypich said.
The fish used for making prahok now sells for 1,300 to 2,000 riel per kilogram, while the one used for pha’ak (fermented fish with sticky rice) is selling for 4,000-4,500 riel, Ms Sreypich said.
Prahok is made with small fish, while for pha’ak bigger fish is used.
According to Mr Dy, the second season will fall on late January.