Long-term aim is for fishermen to move to farming, not catching, fish and shellfish, and local community says they are in favour.
THE government last week announced it will spend US$6 million to build a fisheries farm in Preah Sihanouk province that it expects will boost exports of fish and shellfish amid rising global demand.
Nao Thuok, director of the Fisheries Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told the Post Thursday the farm would eventually double the country's annual seafood exports from its current official level of about 5,000 tonnes, adding that it would also increase food security along the country's coastline.
"We will spend more than $6 million to build the farm on two-and-a-half hectares of the Tumnop Tolok area in Preah Sihanouk province," he said.
Nao Thuok said experts from Japan were currently examining the environmental impact of the farm, adding that he would request them to help fund the project.
Nao Thuok said the government wanted local fishermen currently living in the area to get involved with the project, and ultimately change to farming fish and shellfish rather than catching them.
Sok Kao, chief of Koh Khyong village in the Prey Nop district of Preah Sihanouk province, said people in his community had made great efforts to replant mangroves and sea-grasses and to prevent overfishing, despite suffering at the hands of large-scale development projects.
"We will be happy if this project doesn't cut us off from our fishing grounds," Sok Kao told the Post.
Lor Chhean, chief of the Thnuat Fisheries Community, said one problem for the community was that boats from Vietnam and Thailand regularly fished in Cambodian waters using illegal methods.This, along with a rise in the number of fishermen and companies dumping sand into fishing areas, had contributed to a 40 percent drop in catches in just a few years, he said.
"A few years ago we caught an average of 25 kilograms of fish, shrimp and crabs each day, but now we are catching less than one-third that amount," Lor Chhean said. "We hope our lives will improve and that the sea life will be increased once this project is completed."