Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - When the river comes alike...

When the river comes alike...

When the river comes alike...

CAMBODIANS in their thousands packed up their belongings on carts and moved away

from their homes to the great waterways of the Tonle Sap, the Mekong and Bassac rivers

at the turn of this new year.

For about five days of the full moon, they concentrated on making prahok - a crushed

and fermented brown fish paste used mainly to supplement the rice they grow during

the rest of the year.

Fish is caught by the hundreds of kilograms. It is sold on the riverfront in a swirl

of noise and color. Women gut and chop the heads of the fish, and everyone chatters

as they join in the stomping and rinsing of the fish at bamboo stalls in the water.

"This is the only time for us to buy cheap fish," said Reun Hong, a villager

from Takeo province, who was making prahok at Prey Pnov about 15 kilometers north

of Phnom Penh.

The fresh fingerlings Hong can buy at the riverside for 400 riels would cost up to

1,500 riels in his village. The price was about the same last year.

Hong, who works together with his wife and two daughters, said he would prepare two

jars of about 80 kilos of prahok.

Hong said prahok was one of the most important foods for his village and that "if

we keep it longer, it would taste better". The taste of prahok depended on what

fish were used, he said.

"You must understand that we live far from the fish markets. We cannot go to

the market everyday to buy food and we do not have enough money for our daily expenses."

Heng Van owns nets that stretch across nearly half the Tonle Sap that cost him 300,000

riels. He didn't reckon he'd get much profit for his investment this year if the

fishing season ended much before the end of January. If the season kicked on a bit

longer, he might expect to earn around a million riels.

The fishing season depended on the waning of the water levels of the great waterways.

More than 100 species of fish move upstream in the Mekong, ready to spawn in the

rainy season, according to Uk Sim, deputy director of Fishery Department.

According to the Fishery Department, about 72,000 tons of fish were caught last year

up more than ten percent from 1994. Nearly half of all those fish are caught to make

prahok.

Sim said this year's catch will be up further - though a long way short of the 120,000

tons that Cambodian fisherpeople caught in the 1960s.

The government earns around $400,000 a year on its own fisheries concessions.

According to the Fishery Department's regulations, all fresh-water fishing is banned

from May to September because that is when egg-laying and breeding is done. However,

violations of this law happens all the time.

Sim says many of the bigger fish species have vanished from Cambodia's rivers and

lakes.

MOST VIEWED

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • Four-pillar approach in reopening of tourism: PM

    Cambodia is drawing up a four-strategy approach to promptly restore domestic and international tourism activity and put the industry on a transition pathway to a sustainable and inclusive model that is resistant to future crises, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen. The prime minister made

  • Airline says ready for green light to reopen international tourism

    Sky Angkor Airline Co Ltd on September 21 said it is ready to transport South Korean and Chinese tourists to the Kingdom once the Cambodian government makes good on plans to reopen its borders to vaccinated travellers. The Siem Reap-based airline made the remark during a

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • Cambodian bride ‘badly treated, held captive’ by Chinese man seeks help

    A Cambodian woman who travelled to China to marry a Chinese man there was “badly treated” by her husband’s family and then had to be rescued and will be returned to Cambodia to ensure her safety. The rescue operation came about after the 25-year-old