Big Catch of Small Fish Eludes Villagers

Although the annual fishing season has officially begun, government officials, fishermen and villagers have yet to see large catches of trey riel, the small fish commonly used to make prahok, the much-loved fermented fish paste, Fisheries Administration Deputy Director Sam Nov said Tuesday.

Last week, the Fisheries Admin­istration predicted a 15 percent increase on the amount of fish, including trey riel, caught in the previous season, based on field surveys done after the main inland fishing season began in early November.

“The good catch of prahok fish has not yet arrived because the water level is still high,” Sam Nov said, noting, however, that the catch of other fish species has been healthy since the season began.

Early January might be a better time to catch trey riel, he said.

Several fishermen spoken to along the Tonle Sap riverbank reported this week catching fewer fish this year compared to last season’s haul of 100 kg of fish a day.

“This year the fish are less than the previous year,” Phav Pheouk, 38, said, adding that the daily catch of late has only consisted of 30 kg of fish.

He is hopeful, however, that January’s catch will be better.

Kandal province resident Chi Nut, 53, said she spent the past two days in Ponhea Leu district’s Prek Pnov commune trying to catch trey riel because she heard this was the best time of the fishing season.

“I heard that fish season has arrived, but there is no more fish to make prahok,” Chi Nut said Tuesday.

She said she now hoped to buy a lot of fish this month to prepare the popular fermented fish paste because she is worried trey riel will be hard to come by in January.

Even so, prices for trey riel are similar to what was charged last year, she said, with small fish costing 1,500 riel per kg and large fish going for 3,500 riel per kg.

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