Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Fishermen seeing fruitful prahok season, almost doubling last year’s catch

Fishermen seeing fruitful prahok season, almost doubling last year’s catch

Fisheries Secretary of State Nao Thouk (centre, wearing a hat) examines a haul of mudfish yesterday. Fresh News
Boat workers sort through a catch that will be used to make prahok, Cambodia’s ubiquitous fish paste. Fishermen say that after a few mediocre years, this season’s catch will be profitable. Fresh News

Fishermen seeing fruitful prahok season, almost doubling last year’s catch

Fishermen on the Tonle Sap river are smelling success: The season’s first harvest of the fish now being crushed into the famously pungent prahok has hauled in a bounty set to almost double last year’s catch.

As the fishermen temporarily packed their nets ahead of last night’s full moon, marking a pause in the frenzied fishing of prahok season, fisheries officials and others in the business said that this year’s high water levels had brought a welcome turnaround in fortunes compared to the poor harvest a year ago.

“It will satisfy the demand for fish to process into prahok,” said Nao Thouk, secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Water levels were 1.5 metres higher than last year, he said. The Tonle Sap has been teeming with fish being carried in its flow as it once again drains towards the Mekong.

Last season’s yield was roughly 10,000 tonnes, Thouk said. This season, fishermen are looking at a total haul of 15,000 to 20,000 tonnes. The average catch in recent years has been around 12,500 tonnes, he added.

Finger-sized fish for making prahok – typically mudfish – are collected in giant nets called dai over two periods of peak activity, each lasting about two weeks ahead of a full moon. They are then gutted, crushed, dried, salted and fermented until they become the much-loved – though for many foreigners highly divisive – fish paste.

The first peak this season was from December 22 to 27, with fishing continuing until early yesterday morning. The second peak period is expected from January 21 to 26.

Chhin Chansa, the owner of one of 60 allotted dai operating on the river, said he had collected about 80 tonnes of fish during the first period.

He had sold the fish to a broker for about 1,400 riel per kilogram – which would amount to total revenue of $28,000 – but after the costs of equipment, labour and rents, his estimated profit for the season would be $2,000 to $3,000, Chansa said.

“The result is that we got a lot more fish than last year,” Chansa said.

Another dai owner, Phe Van, said he thought he could do even better during the second fishing period.

“During the first period I collected around 60 tonnes – it was a smaller amount because of rains and storms,” Van explained. “I hope the next period will give me 100 tonnes.”

Luy Maly, a prahok seller, has made her first order of about 50 kilograms of fish, and noted that the prahok supply lines were smooth flowing.

“This season is good for me,” she said. “I get a fair price and all the amount that I want.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre. The