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Minister: Protect fish habitat

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People release breeder fishes and other aquatic animals into natural waters in 2020. Hong Menea

Minister: Protect fish habitat

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon urged an end to the destruction of flooded forests that serve as fish habitat and the use of creeks to plant lotus trees.

Sakhon made the call as the Kingdom observed National Fish Day on July 1.

“Since 2003, National Fish Day is celebrated every year with the release of breeder fish and fish spawn and other aquatic animals of local varieties totalling five million fish per year into our natural waters. The release is to increase the national fish stock production to help sustain the livelihoods of local people,” he said.

The minister added that due to Covid-19, large-scale celebrations were missed in 2020-21 but the release of fish eggs into natural wasters continued in local communities.

He mentioned the seven recommendations by Prime Minister Hun Sen including a total ban on illegal fishing equipment use during the spawning season, flooded forest logging in spawning habitats and taking over creeks for non-fishing purposes.

He encouraged the people, especially fishermen and relevant authorities at all levels, to follow the recommendations to ensure the sustainability of national fish resources in Cambodia for all generations of mankind.

The fisheries sector is considered the primary source of nutrition and income while also exhibiting a strong influence on Cambodian culture, according to a study released on June 30 by the Wonders of the Mekong.

It said fisheries created jobs for over six million people living along rivers, around the Tonle Sap Lake and in coastal areas, accounting for 45.5 per cent of the total Cambodian population.

Among those six million people, 10.5 per cent consider fishing as their primary occupation while the other 35 per cent consider it a secondary occupation.

“Fish are truly essential to the Cambodian people and their welfare,” said the report.

It noted that since the year 2000, the inland fishery production in Cambodia has ranked fourth in the world after China, India and Bangladesh.

However, if just the average catch of freshwater fish per capita was considered, Cambodia would rank first in the world.

On average, Cambodian people consume up to 37.5kg of fish per year – meaning Cambodia has among the highest rates of fish consumption in the world.

Cambodians living along the lowland areas near the Tonle Sap Lake and Mekong River consume up to 67kg of fish per year. The Kingdom far surpasses most other countries in the world, which eat an average of 15kg of fish per person, according to the report.

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