NY Sothoun, 33, sits on her mat in Stung Treng’s central market. In front of her lie two large fish. She puts one on her scales. It weighs just over a kilogramme. “$25?” she asks.
The fish is the pava, a local speciality of Stung Treng. Its high price reflects both the difficulty local fishermen have in catching it, and its scarcity.
“It is more delicious than all other fish,” she says. “It has a very good taste.”
Ny Sothoun has sold fish at the market for six years, but this year has been a particularly bad one. Even during the supposed peak months of December and January, the pava has been in short supply. She is the only person selling any in the market today.
“This year it is difficult to find them. We have seen a decrease in their numbers,” she says. “I don’t know the reason why, but for the past two or three years it was easier to catch them. Even now in season, the price is still high, $22 per kilo.”
The inflated price has affected trade. “It is very difficult to sell, because people around here don’t have much money,” she says.
Most of the fish are sold to restaurants in Phnom Penh where there is still a demand for the rare species. TRANSLATION BY RANN REUY