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Ministry: ‘Prahok season set to begin when skies are clear’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A fisherman gathers riel fish, the main ingredient used to make prahok, on a wooden boat. Heng Chivoan

Ministry: ‘Prahok season set to begin when skies are clear’

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced on Wednesday that Phnom Penh and Kandal provinces will start their prahok seasons sometime between Friday and next Thursday, whenever there are clear skies.

The fisheries administration has been monitoring the Tonle Sap water level and the outflow from Tonle Sap lake for more than a week. Experts determined that the water level has decreased faster than in previous years, providing the required favourable conditions to catch fish.

The head of Phnom Penh’s fisheries administration, Ngin Dy, told The Post on Wednesday that there are six locations for making prahok – all along National Road 5.

Four of them are in Russey Keo district’s Kilometre 6, Chraing Chamreh I, Chraing Chamreh II and Svay Pak communes. The other two are in Prek Pnov district’s Doung and Prek Pnov villages.

“Today our fishermen caught many riel fish [Siamese mud carp]. However, it has not yet reached its peak because this is not the season that these fish swim into Tonle Sap river."

“Having looked at the water level in Tonle Sap river in Phnom Penh and the outflow from Tonle Sap lake, the fish that’s used to make prahok will start to arrive this week, provided there is no fog or rain,” he said.

The ministry’s deputy director-general Srun Limsong called for people who come every year to make prahok, pha’ak and dried fish to purchase them promptly. Limsong also asked the local authorities to make it easy for people to travel, stay and deliver the fish.

‘By the truckload’

Every year, in the middle of December, people from other provinces including Takeo, Kampong Speu, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng come to prahok-making locations in Phnom Penh to buy fish to make prahok and dried food for their families and to exchange the fish with other farmers.

Fishermen and women from Pursat and Kampong Thom provinces told The Post on Wednesday that fish to make prahok have started to arrive but farmers from other provinces have not yet come to purchase them.

However, traders that make prahok have come to purchase by the truckload and resell the fish at a profit in different provinces or use them to make animal food.

The Coalition of Cambodian Fisheries director, Long Sochet, said on Wednesday that the fish started to arrive in Pursat province on Monday.

However, he said the fish’s price has not yet gone down to the point that farmers have begun buying them and making prahok because fish traders are still willing to pay a higher price and resell the fish in other provinces.

“Riel fish which are small in size is the type used to make prahok. Its price is between 1,400 and 1,700 riel, while other types of fish of the same size are sold for between 1,200 and 1,300 riel per kg."

“Fish that already have the heads cut off and scales removed and are ready for prahok-making, but not yet salted, are sold for 2,500 to 2,700 riel per kg. Traders are competing to buy them, but the public have not come as yet,” he said.

Sochet said people will start to purchase fish to make prahok when its price falls to 300 to 500 riel a kg.

Cheng Kim Heng, a fisherwoman from Stoung district’s Phat Sanday commune in Kampong Thom told The Post on Wednesday that the price for prahok fish is 1,100 riel, and between 7,000 and 25,000 riel for bigger fish that are used to make pha’ak.

“Small prahok fish are purchased more than the large fish that’s used to make pha’ak. This is the busy season for people to catch fish to make prahok, pha’ak and other dried fish,” she said.

Kampong Thom Fishery Administration chief Pen Vannarith ordered all fishermen to obey the law and not to use banned fishing equipment to catch fish even though it is now the fishing season.

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