The Fisheries Administration under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reminded the public on December 12 that Cambodia’s best time of the year for fishing with its highest yields is now underway if they are planning to make prahok – Cambodia’s traditional fermented fish paste with iconic culinary status in the Kingdom.

In a notice on December 12, it said there should be abundant fish in the Tonle Sap River running through Phnom Penh and Kandal province from December 12-16 as long as the skies remain clear and no early rainstorms approach.

It requested that the local authorities facilitate fishing trips by making it easier for people to travel and ensuring that lodgings are available as well as providing help with the storage and transport of fish as necessary.

Sun Kunthy, a 38-year-old resident from Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district who makes prahok every year, says her family will be looking to purchase fish for this year’s batch.

“I only make 30 to 50kg of prahok each year for the family to eat and to distribute it to a few villagers when they want to buy it. But that’s not much compared to some people – it’s just enough for the family until next year.

“I do not know how much it will cost for the fish this year but I’m afraid it may be more expensive than in the past because fish just aren’t as plentiful as they used to be,” she said.

She said she was concerned that the fish population’s decline from year to year due to changes to the river’s water levels and from climate change could someday bring an end to the prahok tradition in Cambodia.

Last year, prahok was less plentiful than in previous years and the price of fish was twice as much as in the past.

In early December last year, the type of fish commonly used for making prahok sold for between 2,000 and 3,500 riel ($0.50 and $0.85) per kg and the fish used for making the meatier kind of paste called pa’ork were sold for 8,000 to 12,000 riel per kg, which was almost double previous prices for both.