Exports of freshwater fish products declined slightly last year as local demand rose and yields suffered from lower water levels, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said.

In its latest report, the ministry said exports of freshwater fish products declined by 2.9 per cent last year, reaching just 14,100 tonnes.

Cambodia exported 9,190 tonnes of freshwater fish last year – down 310 tonnes from 2018. Exports of processed fish amounted to 4,910 tonnes, down 90 tonnes, it said.

Last year, the catch of freshwater fish equalled 72,075 tonnes, a decrease of 925 tonnes. About 7,105 tonnes of sea products were harvested, down 3,630 tonnes, the report said. It did not address the export of sea products.

Ministry spokesman Srey Vuthy told The Post on Sunday that the drop in exports was the result of rising domestic consumption and lower yields.

“The amount of freshwater fish caught dropped due to climate change, lower water levels, and rising domestic consumption,” he said.

He said the ministry plans to boost growth in the aquaculture sector by 20 to 25 per cent in the near future and is committed to the protection of fish populations. “If water conditions improve, we expect the output to increase by at least five per cent,” he said.

Yields are increasing in most areas, particularly in the coastal provinces and around the Tonle Sap, said Fisheries Administration head Eng Cheasan.

Cambodia was recently given $25 million in aid from the EU and $17 million from the US Department of Agriculture for aquaculture development, Cheasan said.

The report said last year, fish and shrimp production in aquaculture farms across the Kingdom rose by 53,360 tonnes, reaching more than 307,408 tonnes.