The inland fish catch in Cambodia is expected to be good this year, and a marked increase on last year, Fisheries Administration Director Nao Thuok said Monday.
“I expect we will collect about 400,000 tons of fish for the year 2008 to 2009,” Nao Thuok said, noting that the figure was a 15 percent increase on the amount of fish caught in the previous season.
The catch will likely include 16,000 tons of trey riel, the small fish commonly used to make prahok, the much-loved fermented fish paste that is often used in Cambodian cuisine, he said, adding that 12,500 tons of trey riel were caught last year.
The administration’s projections are based on field surveys carried out after the main inland fishing season got under way in early November, Nao Thuok said.
When the rainy season draws to an end, the waters of the Tonle Sap lake and river flow backward into the Mekong River, giving fishermen their biggest catch of the season.
“I went down to the provinces along the Tonle Sap river, and the fishermen told me that this year there is more fish than last year, and they can also catch bigger fish this year,” he said.
In some areas, he added, samples showed the number of baby fish found in a cubic meter of water rose from 17 last year to 27 fish this season.
Higher water levels in the country’s main rivers are responsible for the larger fish population this year, he said.
Mat Phly, a 42-year-old Cham fisherman on the Tonle Sap River in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district, did not share the Fisheries Administration’s optimism.
“Normally, in November all the fishermen catch big fish, but this year they can’t,” said Mat Phly, who added that he will start fishing more intensively next week.
At this time of year, Mat Phly said he would usually catch up to 20 kg of fish per day, compared with a daily catch of about 2 kg during the rest of the year.
As it stands, Mat Phly said he expects to catch only 10 to 15 kg per day this season.