Fisheries Administration director Nao Thuok said yesterday that he expected the total inland fish catch for this year to be down 10 percent from last year due to unusually low water levels in the Mekong River and Tonle Sap lake this year.
Mr Thuok’s remarks reveal a relatively rosier forecast for this year’s catch in October, when he had warned the catch could fall by a third because of low water levels.
Speaking to reporters after participating in a conference on community-fisheries management, he said, “First, we worried that about a 30 percent fish catch decline, but within two months of fishing now we do not worry very much. Fish catch might decline 10 percent.”
Mr Thuok said he now thought the effects of the Fisheries Administration’s measures to protect fisheries in the Mekong and Tonle Sap had limited the impact of the low water levels.
He explained officials had implemented the largest-ever crackdown on illegal fishing and increased protection of dry season water pools, where non-migrating fish species concentrate until water levels rise again during the monsoon season.
Mr Thuok said officials had prevented 6,700 cases of illegal fishing nationwide this year, compared to about 2,000 cases last year. He added that 64 fishermen had been jailed for the use of illegal fishing gear, such as nets with fine mazes used to catch young fish and electric batteries used to stun fish.
Fishermen on the Tonle Sap, however, painted a different picture, saying that they felt the pinch of this year’s decline.
Eng Kim Chhour, a 57 year-old fisherman in Kompong Thom province’s Kompong
Svay district, said yesterday that he caught about 3 kg per day compared with about 10 kg last year.
“To me, the fish catch could decline about 60 percent,” Mr Kim Chhour said.
Chin Sophann, a 57 year-old fisherman living in Kbal Taol floating village in Battambang province’s Ek Phnom district, said he was very worried about this year’s catch, as he was unable to catch enough fish to sell, making it difficult to buy food for his family.