The primary prahok fishing season may have passed, but fishermen are continuing to haul in respectable catches, say residents of the Phnnom Penh and Kandal province.
Moth Hosan, a freshwater dai (stationary trawl) owner on the Tonle Sap River in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district, told The Post that the season passed more than a week ago, but had been the best he had seen in three or four years.
“At the start of the 2022-23 season, I caught between 60-100kg of fish per day. By the final phase of the season, which ended about a week ago, I was hauling in 30-60kg per day. The yield is richer than it has been in years – families with short nets are still catching three to five kg per day,” he said.
Sles Sary, a fisherman from Kandal province’s Kampong Luong commune in Ponhea Leu district said fish were abundant this year, all though some species remained rare.
His family catch 4-10kg of fish per day in their gill net. Some of the catch is sold, while some is salted and preserved.
“This year’s prahok haul is richer than it has been in the past few years. At present, my family catch 4-10kg of fish per day. We sell some of it and keep some to eat. I can get from 7,000 to 12,500 riel per kg, depending on the size of the individual fish,” he said.
According to Sary, the abundance of prahok fish is due to improved law enforcement, and favourable weather conditions. Heavy rains filled the river and its tributaries, creating perfect breeding conditions for the fish.
According to a January 3 report by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the freshwater dai of Phnom Penh and Kandal produced 1,481 tonnes in during the 2022-2023 season, and increase of 40 per cent over the previous year, when just 890 tonnes were caught.
Almost half of the catch was made up of riel fish, with nearly one third being the slekrussy species. About 8,000 people travelled to the region to purchase prahok, used to produce the Kingdom’s signature pungent fish pastes and sauces, 90 per cent of them from other provinces.
“The increase in the number of fishes caught in the freshwater dai this season shows a clear increase in the size of the Kingdom’s freshwater fisheries. This is a direct result of effective law enforcement by fisheries officials on the Tonle Sap Lake during the spawning season,” it said.
Fisheries administration spokesman Ung Try told The Post that maintaining balance between the conservation and development of freshwater fish resources in Cambodia requires the participation of all stakeholders.
“The cooperation of the fishing communities on the Tonle Sap Lake area and upper Mekong River is an important piece of the equation. They need to act as our eyes and ears and report fisheries crimes to us as soon as they see them,” he said.
“When we prevent crime, fish production increases. As a result, fishermen will be able to catch more fish to support their families,” he added.
He said the administration will continue work to preserve the Kingdom’s fishery resources for years to come and warned the perpetrators of fisheries crimes that they would face the full force of the law.