Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rosy official forecasts fail to lift freshwater fishermen’s hopes

Rosy official forecasts fail to lift freshwater fishermen’s hopes

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Fish caught in the Tonle Sap River are weighed in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district during the 2020 fishing season. Heng Chivoan

Rosy official forecasts fail to lift freshwater fishermen’s hopes

While river fishermen are claiming to have had smaller catches this season, experts are predicting that this year’s freshwater fish yields will be double that of previous years.

Heng Kong, director of the Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute at the Fisheries Administration (FiA), predicted that with the increased flow of the Tonle Sap River and the Mekong River, freshwater fish catches this year would be higher.

This would be aided by the activities of the joint national, provincial and local authorities in effectively cracking down on fisheries crimes, he told The Post.

“Although fishing at the beginning of this season was low, depending on the weather and water flows, I believe that our freshwater fish yields this year will be double that of previous years, while the fish may be larger than last year.

“This will be supported by the increased enforcement of the law protecting freshwater fisheries by the authorities,” Kong said.

Fishermen along the tributaries of Tonle Sap would likely catch more during November, he added, while those on the lake itself, especially along the main fishing course, could see increased catches in mid-November or early December barring heavy rains or low temperatures.

Long Sochhet, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Fishers (CCF), said he also expected fish yields to be better this year.

“Given the abundance of water and the efforts of the authorities to enforce the fisheries law, I believe the amount of fish this year will increase.

“So I urge all relevant authorities to not let up in their efforts or absolve the perpetrators of fisheries crimes,” he told The Post.

According to a FiA report, Cambodian freshwater capture fisheries reached 383,050 tonnes in 2021.

Thach Phanara, head of the FiA’s Laboratory Division at the Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute, said the lake and rivers would be richer in smaller fish this year.

Citing a survey of fry flows along the Mekong from July to September, he said smaller species of fish – such as common dace, Thynnichthys thynnoides, goldfin tinfoil barb, Smith’s barb and engraved catfish – would be abundant this year.

However, larger fish such as “pra” and “po” type shark catfishes, smallscale mud carp and Osteochilus melanopleura would be less plentiful, he noted.

“Based on the weather and the water flow patterns in the Tonle Sap Lake and the movement of smaller fish from the Mekong River, we expect the natural stocks of fish this year to be higher than last year.

“This is also due to the crackdown on fisheries crimes – especially the confiscation of illegal fishing equipment in 70,000ha of flooded forest,” he said.

Despite the predictions of higher yields from experts, some freshwater fishermen are complaining of small catches, with a maximum of 5kg caught a day.

Dul Buntha, a fisherman in Kampong Chhnang province’s Cholkiri district, told The Post that his experience differed from that of official forecasts.

“Fisheries officials never predict a decline in fish yields under any circumstances, but for the fishermen, most are almost going hungry because we cannot catch enough fish.

“We try very hard to catch fish, catching only 3-5kg a day, and we are now almost out of rice,” he said.

According to Buntha, while fisheries crimes in the Tonle Sap lake area were down due to the crackdown by the authorities, they reoccurred significantly during rainy season.

Hor Sam Ath, deputy head of Sdei Kraom Rohal Suong Fishing community in Ek Phnom district’s Prek Luong commune in Battambang province, told The Post that fishing had not been productive at the beginning of this season.

“With there being large amounts of water everywhere, a lot of fish moved into the flooded fields, while large rivers and lakes are so deep it is impossible to fish.

“I tried to catch fish along the river, but I didn’t catch many, so it is better at the moment if I fish in the fields,” he said.

According to Sam Ath, fish that could be caught in fields at the beginning of this season in numbers were mostly lake fish, including climbing perch, moonlight gourami and snakehead murrel.

The fish moving from rivers, he added, were goldfin tinfoil barb, Smith’s barb and Asian redtail catfish, which, while abundant, were small.


  • Second Hungary business forum set for H2

    Cambodia has asked Hungary to provide GSP- (Generalised System of Preferences) Plus facilities for when the Kingdom sheds its least-developed country (LDC) label, as the two countries prepare to hold a second business forum in the second half (H2) of this year to expand trade

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports

  • CPP sets out five primary strategic goals for 2023-28

    The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) on January 29 concluded its two-day extraordinary congress, setting the party’s priority goals for 2023-2028. The ruling party’s congress was attended by more than 3,000 members from across the Kingdom, including the members of the permanent and central committees,

  • Nearly 50 states join Kun Khmer Federation, all set for training

    In a little over a week, the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) has accepted membership requests from 20 new nations, in addition to the exiting 29. The sudden influx of international recognition stems from the Kingdom’s successful introduction of Kun Khmer to the 32nd Souheast Asian (