The Fisheries Administration Department announced a temporary ban on mackerel fishing from Tuesday until March 31, as the fish’s breeding season is approaching.
Head of the department, Hong Hy, said: “To ensure the sustainability of maritime resources in Cambodia, the fisheries department prohibits mackerel fishing during the period every year.”
Mackerel is a migrating fish species that prefer to live in schools at a depth of 30-40m, he said.
It likes to eat sea plants and plankton and usually comes to the coastal areas between mid-January and the end of March in order to reproduce.
Hy noted that mackerel fishing requires costly equipment, such as powerful boat engines and a long net that could reach a depth of at least 10m. Consequently, many fishermen cannot afford them.
Separately, fishermen believed that their mackerel catches have been declining.
Nak Sen, a fisherman based in Kampot province, told The Post on Tuesday that 20 years ago, he could catch at least 2kg of mackerel every day.
He pointed out the lack of mackerel in the province’s coastal areas, saying “more and more mangrove forests have been cleared since 2010 to allow construction of factories”.
“In the past, the province had [lots of] mackerel, but I have not seen schools of mackerel of late,” Sen said.
He added that he could not afford the more advanced fishing equipment and his can only be used in shallow waters.
Kampot provincial fisheries administration official Sar Sorin said the waters in the province are generally more shallow and the current is weaker than that of Preah Sihanouk and Koh Kong provinces.
“Some members of the fishing community in Kampot sail to Preah Sihanouk province’s waters once in four to five days and are able to catch up to 20kg of mackerel. Others who fish around here and Kep province can only catch up to 5kg at the same time,” he said.
Ek Phea from Preah Sihanouk provincial fisheries administration told The Post that most schools of mackerel fish can be found swimming around Koh Ses, Koh Pol Vai, Koh Pring, Koh Rong and some islands in Koh Kong province.
He said most of the fishermen in his province are aware of the temporary ban.
“We have broadcast the announcement about the prohibition to the fishing communities and at fishing supply collection sites,” Phea said.
The annual fishing yield in Preah Sihanouk province reaches up to about 4,000 tonnes, 500 tonnes of which is mackerel, he said.
Non Doeun, a fisherman from Prey Nop district’s O’Chrov commune said at the moment, the fishermen in his community are busy preparing to catch crabs, squid and shrimp.
“We can fish anything other than mackerel in order to support our families,” he said.