2017: A good year for fish

Sok Chan / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
High fish yields are due to high water levels in the Tonle Sap Lake and surrounding rivers. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodians can expect up to 14,000 tons of fish caught from the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers this year, a 5,000 ton increase compared with last year, which will be sufficient to meet all local demand, said the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries yesterday.
The ministry’s secretary of state Nao Thouk told Khmer Times that yields from the Tonle Sap Lake were abundant during the start of the fishing season last week.
Mr. Thouk said that at the upstream of the lake in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district, between six and eight tons of fish were caught per hour over the weekend.
On the downstream, he said, between 300 to 500 tons of fish were caught over the same two days, indicating the abundance in fish yield this year.
“This year the fish caught to make prahok will be enough to supply the entire country. The price for fish [for fermenting] is around 1,000 to 2,000 riel [about $0.25 to $0.50] per kilogram,” Mr. Thouk said, referring to the fermented fish paste popular in Khmer cuisine.  
He added, however, only 40 to 100 kilograms of fish were caught per hour in Phnom Penh.
The next high-yield fishing season is expected between February 2 and 8.
He explained that the high yields were due to the present high water levels in the Tonle Sap Lake and surrounding rivers, coupled with the government actively preventing illegal fishing, which has encouraged healthy fish breeding.
Fish product manufacturer Khem Vannak told Khmer Times that the fish caught this year are much bigger than that of last year, adding that last week alone she had brought 40 to 50 tons of fish compared to the 50 tons she brought in the whole of last year.
“The demand for prahok in the market has increased a lot as I am able to sell about one ton a day to my customers,” the Phnom Penh-based businesswoman said.
Fishery Action Coalition Team’s Tonle Sap project coordinator Minh Bunly echoed the government officials’ statements, adding that higher water levels will encourage fish to breed, increasing the population in lakes and rivers.  
“Based on our research in some parts of the Tonle Sap Lake, we noticed that the number of fish has increased.
“Therefore it is expected the fish yield this year will also increase due to the Tonle Sap Lake’s water level allowing the fish to spawn,” he said.
According to a report released by the ministry in December, the nationwide fish yield for both freshwater and marine fish stood at 71,725 tons in the first 11 months of 2016, an increase of 14,325 tons compared with the same period in 2015.
Freshwater fish yields amounted to 61,700 tons while marine fish yields came up to 10,025 tons during that same period.

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