Cambodia exported a total of 1,730 tonnes of fisheries products in the first nine months of this year, down more than 84 per cent year-on-year from 10,980 tonnes, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported.
During the period, exports of fresh fisheries products dipped 78 per cent year-on-year to 1,498 tonnes from 7,000, while processed fisheries products sank 94 per cent year-on-year to 232 tonnes from 3,980, the ministry said.
Freshwater fisheries yield in the first nine months was 252,646 tonnes, down 965 tonnes from the same period last year, while marine fisheries output reached 88,330 tonnes, down 3,684 tonnes.
Minister Veng Sakhon told The Post on Monday that the drop in fisheries product exports during the period was due to rising domestic demand along with declining fishing yields.
Most Cambodian fisheries products are exported to Vietnam and Thailand, he noted.
“Natural fish catches have been greatly reduced due to the low water levels of the Tonle Sap Lake, which is the largest nesting site for fish in Cambodia.
“But we’ve witnessed a notable surge in fish, frog and crayfish farming that is ramping up production figures and gearing Cambodia up to export them to the international market in the future,” Sakhon said.
He said the ministry is promoting fish farming through the EU-funded CaPFish-Capture and CaPFish Aquaculture projects in a bid to boost the household economy and food security.
“I would like to call on fish farm owners to consider on-site processing to increase value added, create jobs and curb overharvesting during fishing seasons,” he said.
Samnang Sothea, owner of a fisheries processing cottage industry in Siem Reap town, said his business annually produces 100 tonnes of dried fish, Pangasius djambal pha’ak paste, prahok, mudfish mam paste, shredded fish.
Having turned the family business into a commercial operation in 2004, he said he purchases fish from local farmers and fisherman.
“Nowadays 50 per cent of our products end up in markets across Siem Reap province and the remaining 50 per cent go to Phnom Penh and Oddar Meanchey province, reeling in an average of $50,000 a year,” Sothea said.
In the period from January-September, production of farmed fish and shrimp reached more than 296,500 tonnes, up from 245,578 tonnes in the year-ago period, the ministry reported.