The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said this season’s production of the pungent Cambodian fish paste prahok has increased by 40 per cent over last year, noting that the significant growth demonstrated the effectiveness of crackdown on fisheries crimes during the spawning season.

A ministry press release said the yields of the stationary trawl fisheries – known in Cambodia as “dai” – in Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal province during the December 29-January 3 prahok season grew to 1,481 tonnes. Last year’s haul was just 890 tonnes.

“The growth of the catch by dai reflected an increase in the amount of freshwater fish. The increase was the result of effective law enforcement by fisheries officials and the police during the 2022 spawning season,” it said.

It added that the ministry would continue to enforce the law strictly and would not hesitate to prosecute offenders.

The ministry said that when the fisheries yields increased, fishermen and residents of communities were able to look for fish easily and at an affordable price.

Heng Sophearith, director of the Fisheries Administration’s (FiA) Kandal provincial cantonment, said this year’s catches had increased thanks to improved understanding of the importance of conservation, along with increased law enforcement.

“Most places have seen a decline in crime. Thanks to educational campaigns by the authorities, more and more people have abandoned electrocution nets or other illegal means of catching fish.

“Some challenges remain, of course, but there are far fewer cases of confrontations between illegal fishermen and police officers,” he said.

The press release added that in order to maintain the growth of fish stocks, the ministry would continue to balance conservation and development, not just in the Tonle Sap Lake but also in the Mekong River.