THE development of a saltwater fish reproduction centre in Preah Sihanouk province is scheduled to begin next year, financed by nearly US$10 million from Japan, a government official said Thursday.
Sam Nov, deputy director of the Department of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said the centre will be able to produce between 20 million and 30 million young fish per year to supply fish farmers.
"We expect that when the centre starts producing young fish that we will be able to double production to meet demand from local markets, and also increase exports," he said.
The $9.93 million centre is scheduled to be opened in 2011, he said.
Cambodia currently has around 40 saltwater fish-raising communities producing 40,000 tonnes of fish and shrimp per year, according to ministry figures. However, they rely on imported species of fish, especially sea bass and grouper, which are particularly susceptible to disease, Sam Nov said.
Ung Puth Molika, manager of Angkor Shrimp Farming Company in Preah Sihanouk province's Veal Rinh district, said importing fish to raise was expensive and time-consuming.
The company imports sea bass and grouper from Thailand and Vietnam for between $0.10 and $0.20 a head. Anywhere from six to nine months later, the mature fish are sold for between $3.50 and $10 per kilogram, she said.
"It is good that a breeding centre for young sea fish is being built in Cambodia because it will save me time and increase my profits," she said.
She said it would encourage her to expand the farm to produce more than 10 tonnes a year.
Figures from the Agriculture Ministry showed ocean fisheries in Cambodia produced 66,000 tonnes of fish. Export figures were not available for saltwater fish alone, but Cambodia exported 12,000 tonnes of saltwater and freshwater fishery products in 2008.