Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon on June 19 responded to criticism about Cambodia’s aquaculture sector, saying there had been misinterpretation and recommending that more research on reforms by the government concerning fisheries is needed.
Sakhon’s response came after the ministry issued a press release on June 14 that addressed questions related to the supply and demand of fish, highlighting shortages in the market.
In a Facebook post, Sakhon said: “The ministry has received comments from some analysts and the public who misinterpreted the facts and what policies the government has been pursuing to reform and promote the development of the agricultural sector to ensure food security and exports at a difficult time due to the spread of Covid-19.
“In this context, I would like analysts and the public to draw attention to research on the government’s reform of the fisheries sub-sector, which began with the implementation of decentralisation before 2006 then centralised management of this sector after 2006,” he said.
He said the government decided to reform again in the post-2016 decentralisation, with authority delegated to the sub-national level, especially to the provincial governors to be in charge of cracking down on fisheries and forestry crimes.
He added that this requires time to build and further strengthen capacity. In this case the ministry can intervene only if necessary.
Sakhon said that there were many reasons for the loss of natural resources in the past.
He said that everything started from the process of national economic, social, urban and population growth, as well as a build up of sediments along waterways.
He mentioned that Cambodia’s current aquaculture is scattered, and lacks capital and water resources. Breeding needs to be improved and harvesting is facing difficulties. It takes a long time to transport from one province to another, and to collect and distribute to the market.
“There are still many challenges that we have been reviewing and resolving in a gradual inter-ministerial manner,” he said.
According to Sakhon, although Cambodia still faces some challenges related to aquaculture and market issues, aquaculture in Cambodia had made good progress.
The minister said average annual aquaculture growth was 20.6 per cent from 2015-2019. In 2020, harvesting increased to 400,400 tonnes, an increase of 30 per cent compared to 2019.
“The steady increase in aquaculture output is due to the interest and active participation of the relevant ministries and others involved in aquaculture. It also has the support of the government, both technical and funding from international development partners for aquaculture development activities in Cambodia,” he said.
He added that ministry has prepared policy measures to promote aquaculture 2021-2023 in order to increase aquaculture productivity to be competitive, environmentally friendly and sustainable.