As the moon waxes later in the month, the season for prahok fishing will arrive for those living along the river, stream, tributary in the provinces around the Tonle Sap Lake and River.

Fishermen in the Tonle Sap River in the north of Phnom Penh and Kandal province will be able to catch fish between the end of December and the beginning of January if the sky is clear, and there are no unexpected showers, say fisheries officers.

Ouch Vutha, director of the Department of Fisheries, told The Post that water levels in the Tonle Sap Lake are slowly receding, allowing fish to live in flooded areas and along the tributary systems of the upper Tonle Sap Lake. He predicted that the season for fishing for prahok, “pha’ak” and smoked fish would start on December 27-28, if the sky is clear.

“Depending on the current state of the Tonle Sap Lake water levels, fish traps and Dais along the Tonle Sap River in Phnom Penh and Kandal provinces may catch more fish at the end of December or early January, as long as there is no rain or heavy fog,” he said.

A Dai is a stationary net positioned in the river to catch the migratory fish, he explained.

He told fans of prahok they should be ready to go and purchase the delicacy from their favourite area, as they have in past years. He also called on local authorities and transport and accommodation operators to welcome to predicted influx of visitors.

Vutha also reminded all fishermen and Dai owners of the importance of releasing any Mekong giant catfish – an endangered species which is a symbol of the Kingdom of Cambodia – back into the river if they became caught in nets.

Mot Hosan, the owner of a fishing business in Chrang Chamres 1 area in Russey Keo district in Phnom Penh, told The Post that it was prohibited from taking not only the Mekong giant catfish, but many other rare species, such as royal fish or cucumber fish. He had instructed his fishermen to release any of these species back into the river.

“According to information about fish movements I have received from fishing community networks in Pursat and Kampong Chhnang provinces, in the fourth week of December, the fish will begin to move to down the Tonle Sap River to the Mekong and Bassac rivers. Businesses along the Dai fish line in northern Phnom Penh and Kandal provinces are excited to begin operations,” he said.

According to Hosan, the current price of fish is still between 7,500 riel and 10,000 riel per kg for chkaeng, chhpeun, kahae and cros. Riel, kralong, changva moul and lench with a body width of two fingers would earn from 5,000 riel to 7,500 riel per kg.

Soy Keo, a fisherman in Reang Til commune, Kandieng district, Pursat province, told The Post that as the waning moon falls on November-December, lunar fishing was not yielding the same hauls as during the waxing moon.

“When the moon is waxing, I can catch 10 to 15 kg of fish a day. I can sell small riel fish at 1,500 riel-2,000 riel per kilogram, and I can sell snakehead at 7,500 riel per kilogram. Under a waning moon, I can only catch from 4 to 5 kg a day,” he said.

Dun Bun Tha, a fisherman in Koh Thkov commune, Choul Kiri district, Kampong Chhnang province, said that the fish are starting to move – from the Tonle Sap to the Mekong, Tonle Bassac and streams, lakes, creeks with deep water – for feeding and breeding.

According to Bun Tha, during the current migration, he and his fellow fishermen were making some good catches with fish traps, nets and hooks.

He predicted that the prahok season would arrive in late December or early January 2023 if there were no change in the weather.