CAMBODIAN fish yields have declined about 30 per cent compared with the corresponding
time last year, according to the head of the Cambodian Fisheries Department.
Nao Thouk, Director of the Fisheries Department, said that the decline in fish catches
had been caused by a slow recession of water from last autumn's floods, as well as
irregular rain in the dry season.
"Up to now the water is still one metre higher than last year," Thouk said.
"We've also had several very heavy rainstorms this dry season, causing fish
catches to decrease."
According to Thouk, the flooding and dry season rains have disrupted the natural
fish migration from lakes and ponds to the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers during the
khneut (waxing moon).
Thouk's account of falling fish yields is supported by veteran fisherman El Sman.
Sman, 66, the owner of Fishing Lot number 5C along the Tonle Sap river in Russey
Keo district, said fish disappeared from his net if the sky was unclear or if it
rained during high fishing season.
"This year we've fished for a longer period of time than last year, but actual
fish yields were about 25 per cent lower," he said.
Yields may rebound
However, Mom Seng, head of the Phnom Penh Fisheries Office, said that by the end
of the fishing season fish yields may show a rebound.
"Last year there was only one khneut , but this year there were three, so I
think that fish yields will amount to the same as last year, but only in Phnom Penh,"
Low fish yields could very well haunt fishermen long after the fishing season ends.
Sman, like many other fishermen, borrowed heavily from creditors prior to the fishing
season, and now has only half of the $13,000 he must repay within the coming weeks.
"I am very worried about being able to pay back my loan," he said.