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Nation needs cash to meet its fish target for 2019

At least US$78 million would be needed to develop Cambodia’s fisheries sector in the next decade if the government was to reach its fish production target of 1.2 million tonnes by 2019, officials said at a ceremony on Monday.

Nao Thouk, director-general of the Fisheries Administrat-ion at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said his department would need $7 million a year to implement projects such as aquaculture and hatching stations for fresh and seawater fish species.

“With enough money, we’ll be able to produce the necess-ary quantity of fish,” he said. “But we don’t know if we’ll have enough funding.”

In 2011, Cambodia’s fish production had totalled 600,000 tonnes, an increase of 50,000 tonnes over 2010, Nao Thouk told the Post this month.

He said that by 2019, Cambodia could export 500,000 tonnes of fish with a value of up to $1 billion.

The Fisheries Administrat-ion received funding from various international donors in addition to the national budget, Nao Thouk said.

“We get around $1 million from the national budget each year,” he said, adding that from next year, the European Union would provide a five-year grant of nearly $34 million to the Ministry of Agriculture, aimed at the fish sector.

The Danish International Development Agency, however, would stop funding the ministry in 2013.

Om Savath, executive director of the Fisheries Action Coalition Team, said the fisheries sector faced many challenges as a result of illegal fishing, weak enforcement of seasonal bans and deforestation of natural fish habitats.

“If the fishing communities do not actively participate, the goal of almost doubling production will not be achieved,” Om Savath said.

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