Fisheries earnings scaled up

October 24, 2017, Chea Vannak / Khmer Times,

Earnings in the fishing sector rose by 62 percent during the first nine months of the year.

However, growth in exports of inland fish as well as in marine production was flat during the January-September period compared with the same period in 2016.

From January to September, Cambodia exported 6,950 tonnes of inland fish products and 3,880 tonnes of marine products, according to a report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The country earned more than $633,000 from the fishing industry during the first nine months of the year, already 86 percent of its goal for the whole year, which is $737,000.

Cambodia’s inland fish catch is largely exported to Singapore, Malaysia and China, while marine fish harvests are mostly sent to Thailand and Vietnam.

While marine fish yields increased by 15 tonnes, reaching 8,340 tonnes, the amount of processed freshwater fish products experienced a drop of 5,400 tonnes, amounting to only 41,300 tonnes during the January-September period.

Minh Bunly, the programme coordinator at the Fishery Action Coalition Team, applauded the results, saying the government crackdown on illegal fisheries and the rising levels of water in rivers across the nation are factors contributing to the positive numbers.

“Bigger fish are being caught in rivers and in the Tonle Sap, and the numbers are bigger than last year, which means the crackdown on illegal fishing activities is having an effect,” Mr Bunly said.

“The water levels this year are higher than in previous ones, which helps increase the number of fish.”

“If the crackdown on illegal activities continues, fish yields from freshwater will increase,” Mr Bunly added.

Mr Bunly urged the government to support aquaculture in the country as a way to reduce imports of fish.

“Don’t just focus on wild-caught fish, but try to boost the aquaculture sector as well as a way to feed local demand,” Mr Bunly said.

Thay Somony, the director of the Aquaculture Development Department of the Fisheries Administration, told Khmer Times the government supports fish farming as a way of satisfying local demand and reducing fish imports.

“Fish farming is important because it can support local markets. We can farm fish locally and reduce imports,” Mr Somony said.

A total of 2,870 cases of illegal fishing were detected during the first nine months of the year, with 2,687 of all cases occurring in rivers and 173 on the coast.