Agriculture minister Dith Tina has advised the Fisheries Administration (FiA) to enhance the management and conservation of fisheries resources, boost aquaculture and processing, incentivise the private sector, support fisheries cooperatives as well as open doors to alternative livelihood options for fishermen that may need them.

Tina made his recommendations at the FiA’s annual meeting held on February 7 to review the work results of 2022 and direction for 2023, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The minister also emphasised the need to ensure food security and product excellence, saying it is necessary for officials to pay closer attention to sanitary and phytosanitary standards and help support the private sector to facilitate exports. It is also necessary for each specialised unit to built trust in the people, he added.

Tina commended the ministry leadership and officials for working hard to achieve the 2022 results according to their roles, responsibilities, work directions and action plans.

He said the tasks were accomplished with the participation of relevant institutions, municipal and provincial administrations, the armed forces, local authorities and all development partners who have provided the necessary cooperation and support for the implementation of the FiA’s action plans to conserve and develop sustainable fisheries resources.

Citing aquaculture statistics, the ministry said there were 330,600 tonnes of fish raised on farms in 2022, accounting for 91.83 per cent of the previous year’s total; 283,500,000 fingerlings were hatched, or 94.5 per cent of the previous year’s; and 391,414 crocodiles were raised, 130.47 per cent of 2021’s numbers.

It said 331 new aquaculture facilities were established with 10,806 members. Eight facilities have been certified for good aquaculture practices.

Cambodian Aquaculturist Association (CCC) president Sok Raden supported Tina’s recommendations to boost the management and conservation of fisheries resources and aquaculture.

“It is good that the new minister has a new policy and new measures to encourage those in the sector. On behalf of the CCC, we are happy because the policy is a step in the right direction. I believe in the positive changes made by the new minister and I have noticed his actions,” said Raden.

Sin Sovannara, head of the Sre Sranok Samaki fisheries cooperative in Stung Treng province, said on February 7 that the management and conservation of fisheries resources in his community remains weak due to a lack of partners and resources.

“The intervention of fisheries officials against illegal fishing is done actively, but their forces were not enough and sometimes they did not come in time because they were busy with other tasks and so management wasn’t comprehensive,” he said.

Sovannara added that local officials found it difficult to instruct or stop some illegal fishermen, who are often newcomers from other districts.

“When the fisheries officials are not around, they [illegal fishermen] continue their activities. And when our community goes to question them, they just insult us,” he said.