The government and international organisations are working to restore Cambodia’s once plentiful freshwater lobster market, officials have said.
Technically a freshwater shrimp, the crustacean is a popular foodstuff in the Kingdom, selling for up to US$10 for a single lobster.
Efforts are being made by the Fisheries administration to provide technical assistance on the farming and hatching of the lobsters and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has provided financial assistance to farmers since 2006, acccording to the JICA website.
They have trained 70 farmers nationwide and currently most farms are situated in Kampong Speu, Kampot, Takeo and Prey Veng provinces.
The centre for research and freshwater aquaculture of the fishery administration has hatched about one million lobsters, which is a step toward their stated goal of releasing seven million lobsters into the wild to boost numbers said Sam Narith, deputy director of the centre.
“Releasing young lobsters in the wild rivers is very important to increase livestock because lobsters are decreasing,” Sam Narith said, adding that “if we don’t do it, production will be less and less in the future”.
The lobster population has decreased drastically during the past 10 years, officials have told the Post.
Lobsters have been found in the current market to be 10 to 20 times more profitable than farming fish on the same amount of land.
Yan Dee, a lobster farmer in Takeo province has a seven-hectare farm and says he can usually produce around 70 kilograms of lobster per pond.
“Now I can deliver about 100 kilos of lobster to Phnom Penh alive every two weeks,” Dee said.
He reports he produces very nearly a tonne of lobsters a year, which he considers to be about one-tenth of total production in Cambodia.
Om Savath, director of the fishery alliance coalition team said that illegal fishing is still a concern for the fisheries sector, because there was a large increase in illegal fishing from March to April compared to the same time last year.
Om Savath said there are reports of corruption, bribery and misunderstanding of the law among fisheries officials that puts the future viability of the lobster in some doubt.
“Officials should crack down on illegal fishing actively, and they should continue to educate fishers not to use illegal fishing tools,” said Om Savath.
To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at [email protected]