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Tonle Sap fish-catch waning

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A fisheries officer inspects an illegal fishing site in Pursat’s Kandieng district. Agriculture Ministry

Tonle Sap fish-catch waning

The freshwater and marine fish catch in the first quarter of the year was 960,000 tonnes, indicating a drop for all types of fish compared to the same period last year. More than 600 fisheries crimes were cracked down on nationwide, according to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The ministry’s report released on April 5 stated that freshwater fisheries along the Tonle Sap river yielded 1,310 tonnes, a decrease of 190 tonnes; freshwater products caught by families was 56,800 tonnes, a decrease of 12,600 tonnes.

The report said the fish catch on family-level rice fields was 12,800 tonnes, indicating a decrease of 4,700 tonnes compared to the same period last year.

“The marine fishery business achieved 25,780 tonnes of the 130,000 tonnes planned for 2021, a decrease of about 20 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2020,” the report said.

The report also said in the aquaculture sector covering fish and shrimp farming, the yield was at 44,800 tonnes, a decrease of 7,000 tons compared to the same period last year.

With regard to crime, the report said: “There were 648 cases of fisheries crimes, which is an increase of 49 cases compared to the first quarter of 2020. There were 632 freshwater and 16 maritime crimes.”

Agriculture Minister Sakhon said in the report that in the past three months, the ministry had effectively prevented fisheries and other crimes by cooperating with the inter-ministerial commission. He urged relevant authorities to continue strictly enforcing the law to combat the crimes.

Sakhon said: “[Relevant authorities] have to strengthen regular cooperation with local authorities at all levels to prevent fisheries crimes, especially to strictly implement the decision of the Royal Government on the establishment of the inter-ministerial commission to prevent and suppress fisheries crimes in the Tonle Sap Lake.”

Chak Choeun, head of the Doung Steng fishing community in Stoung district’s Peam Bang commune in Kampong Thom province said that the fish catch has declined due to environmental changes such as drought, which has led to a decline in the fish population.

“In my own community, fishermen cannot catch fish like before and it is very difficult because we do not have enough food to eat every day. Before, we used to get around 8kg per day, now we can’t catch enough fish for our daily food,” he said.

Choeun believed that the experts in charge have to strictly prevent fisheries crimes. He suggested that more firm measures need to be taken, especially against illegal fishing. This is for the return and maintenance of fish resources.

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