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Rising demand fuels growth in crayfish stocks

Rising demand fuels growth in crayfish stocks

THE number of young crayfish bred for resale has sharply increased during the first seven months of the year, as suppliers responded to increased domestic demand, according to a report from the Fisheries Administration obtained yesterday.

Approximately 630,000 crayfish – freshwater crustaceans similar to small lobsters – were bred at four farms from January to July before being sold to farmers to raise, Aquaculture Development Department deputy director Haing Leap said yesterday.

The Kingdom’s four crayfish farms, located in Takeo, Kampot, Kandal and Prey Veng provinces, have fetched approximately US$30,000 for the sales of its young crayfish this year to the end of July, and aim to collectively sell 1 million crayfish by the end of the year.

Mam Saran, owner of a crayfish-breeding farm in Chhouk district, Kampot province, said the market for young crayfish was better than ever, though the number of people purchasing the crustaceans to raise was still small.

“We are looking for people overseas to buy our crayfish to raise, because we have the breeding technology to fill many more orders ,” he said.

Mam Saran’s farm, covering 2,000 square metres, could produce more than 1 million young crayfish if production was fully utilised, he said.

The farm bred 390,000 crayfish during the first seven months of the year, while in 2009 it was able to breed and sell only 140,000 during the whole year.

A 20-day-old crayfish fetches 200 riels, or $0.04, and a 45-day old trades for 300 riels, officials said yesterday.

Haing Leap said young crayfish take four to eight months to grow big enough for sale, eventually fetching $20 to $25 per kilogram when mature.

“Nowadays, natural crayfish caught from rivers cannot meet market demand because there are too few of this kind of animal,” he said. Neither the Department of Fisheries nor the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries releases figures on the size of the crayfish catches.

In 2005, the Japan International Cooperation Agency provided Cambodia $5 million in aid to support a five-year project that provided training in crayfish farming.

Of the 70 farmers trained under this project, many are currently employed at the four crayfish-rearing stations.

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