Conference hears that despite lower catches, revenues remain adequate as costs increase
DESPITE declining fish catches, fishermen's incomes on the Tonle Sap Lake remain relatively high, according to recent research conducted by the Fisheries Administration's Institute for Research and Development of River Fisheries.
During a workshop Tuesday held in Phnom Penh, which focused on a hydroelectricity development 2 kilometres across the border in Laos on the Mekong River and its effects on Cambodia's river ecosystems, Hab Navy, the director of the institute, said fishermen along the Tonle Sap Lake in Battambang, Pursat, Kampong Chhnang, Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces drag in an average of US$470 per year from fishing.
About 12 percent of fisherman on Southeast Asia's biggest lake earn as much as $2,000 annually, added Hab Navy.
"We agree that fishing conditions have changed and that the amount of fish has also decreased, but fishermen still maintain high incomes," she told the meeting.
According to reports from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 365,000 tonnes of freshwater fish were caught throughout the country in 2008, 60 percent from the Tonle Sap Lake.
But Long Socheat, sub-chief of a fishing community in Koh Prekraingtil village in Pursat's Kandieng district, said that fishermen in his community can earn around $500 per year from fishing, but he added that the regular expense of purchasing new fishing equipment had pushed many fishermen into debt.
The amount of fish has also decreased, but
fishermen still maintain high incomes.
He claimed 95 percent of the fishermen who live in the floating villages are facing debt problems because their income from fishing is lower than the rising expense of fishing equipment.
Rising fishing costs
"We agree that they can earn what the institute reports, but the income cannot support their living because fishing equipment is very expensive, and they have to fish more often," he said.
Por Try, secretary of state at Ministry of Agriculture, said Tuesday that the Tonle Sap Lake's fisheries are of great importance in ensuring Cambodia's food security and that in order to sustain long-term sustainability, fishermen have to fish in appropriate ways using lawful equipment.
"It is necessary to conserve fish species for the sake of sustainable fishing because the loss of fisheries will have bad effects not only fishermen living around the Tonle Sap, but also on millions of people throughout the country," he said.