COVID-19 opens a can of worms for fisherwomen in Cambodia

“I’m used to hearing the sound of laughter every morning as my customers come to buy fish,” says 37-year-old Huon Tim. “But it’s very quiet these days in the village.”

For Huon, who runs a small fish and produce stall at the local market in Kampong Por, in Cambodia’s Takeo province, these are desperate times. Cambodia boasts one of the world’s most productive freshwater fisheries, with nearly 2 million people employed in the sector. Yet with the COVID-19 crisis, many small-scale family fishing operations are finding themselves in rough waters.

Before the pandemic, Huon’s day began at the crack of dawn with a 120-kilometre round trip to source fish, fruit and vegetables from the neighbouring province. By the end of the day, Huon could expect to take home about 40,000 Riels (US$10). This meagre income paired with her husband’s was enough to run the household, send their two children to school and care for elderly parents.

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