President of the Cambodian Aquaculturist Association (CAA) has requested that relevant ministries find a solution to the more than 20,000 tonnes of aquaculture fish left unsold as imports flood the market.

CAA president Sok Raden said his 270-household-strong association have been devastated by a lack of interest from traders in their products, with many members blaming the large volume of imports.

“Large-scale traders don’t come to buy fish and middlemen don’t come the catch either. Buyers want imported fish from neighbouring countries because they are cheaper,” Sok said.

He added that the CAA insisted that the government and relevant ministries take urgent measures to tackle the issue, noting that maintaining the stocks is financially-demanding and that fish will spoil if not sold promptly.

Furthermore, it is the dry season and some areas could be short of water and fish could die. Fish farmers would suffer huge losses. Without on-time intervention, there could be a big impact and discourage fish farmers.

“I request the government and relevant ministries for assistance. Imports don’t need to be suspended. I only ask the government to help buy fish from our farms first and the fish is to be distributed and sold domestically,” he continued.

However, he elaborated that on March 16, he called an emergency meeting with Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Phan Phalla and Agricultural and Rural Development Bank of Cambodia (ARDB) director-general Kao Thach to discuss matters.

“As far as I know, the Ministry of Economy and Finance is looking for more input than before to introduce a solution and by perhaps next week, a meeting will be held to solve this problem” Raden commented.

A fish-farm owner in Sangkaeb village in Sambor commune in Kampong Cham province’s Batheay district told The Post in anonymity that on March 18, his farm still had 1,000 tonnes of fish he couldn’t sell.

“I don’t have any customers. So, it is hard for me. I don’t see a solution from relevant specialists and a lot of fish are still imported. This kills the domestic market,” he said.

He also said relevant ministries need to check fish which were imported because the quality of imported fish was not good and was sold at a cheaper price than domestically raised fish. He also requested them to find a market for fish farmers in Cambodia.

When asked about the problem of no market, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Veng Sakhon referred the case to a ministry in charge of producing foods and the market, while Ministry of Economy and Finance spokesman Meas Soksensan also referred the case to the General Department of Customs and Excise first.