The government has lifted a decade-old ban on snakehead fish farming following a request from the Ministry of Agriculture last month to once again allow farmers to breed the voracious fish, according to a statement dated Thursday.
Signed by Bun Uy, a secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, the statement said the decision to legalize snakehead fish farming again would be accompanied by forthcoming conditions and advice for farmers.
In the statement, Mr. Uy said the conditions and advice, to be issued by the Agriculture Ministry, would help farmers sustainably manage and maintain their farms, and keep fish stocks healthy.
Newly appointed Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen last month requesting that the ban, initially imposed in 2004, be lifted because farmers needed the income opportunity and could now feed the fish processed food, rather than other fish.
“One reason for the suspension of snakehead fish farming was because farmers couldn’t find processed food for the fish farming, and the farming caused illegal fishing, which used illegal equipment to catch fish from natural lakes for food for the snakehead fish,” Mr. Sakhon said in his letter, adding that the ministry was aware that many small-scale farms had still been operating since the ban was put in place.
“The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has seen that people living along rivers, lakes and estuaries have family-farmed snakehead fish for a long time in order to increase their income,” he wrote, “and the fisheries department found it difficult to stop the illegal fishing.”
Mr. Sakhon added that snakehead fish that are fed processed food actually grow faster than ones that are fed fish from natural rivers and lakes.
“The fish farming now is not a problem any more because people are able to bring the processed foods from Thailand and Vietnam,” he wrote.
Neither Mr. Sakhon nor Mr. Uy could be reached on Sunday.